The Trireme Olympias will not sail down the Thames carrying the Olympic flame for the 2012 London Olympics. The replica of the 5th century B.C legendary Greek warship was to be rowed by 170 of Britain’s finest rowers at the opening of the games, but a report by Financial Times says that Martin Green, the head of ceremonies for London’s organizing committee, has decided to cancel the event due to “major concerns” from London’s transport and security agencies that the trireme would create overcrowding along the Thames as the flame passed by. He also claimed that there were fears that people would be “throwing themselves off bridges.”
The cancellation has sparked angry reactions among Greeks who did not believe the “ridiculous” as they called them excuses of the organisers but believe that this is an example of British authorities’ efforts to insult and downgrade Greek culture and civilisation.
"The decision was not only unexpected and unjustified, but absolutely insulting to the Greek people," said Mrs. Georgette Alithinou, director of the Greek part of the company «International Advantage Corporation», which has undertaken together with the Greek Navy the task of maintaining and transferring the trireme to London.
Speaking to “the Vima” newspaper, she added that "This attack is not only an insult against the Greeks but also against the British. The risk of falling from bridges and other security problems cited by the British side sounds like a bad joke."
The Greek Navy, which owns the Olympias, has also cancelled a scheduled party on the trireme at a ceremony to hand over the flame next month in Greece, to which British delegates had been invited.
Many profiles have being created in virtual community Facebook demanding that the Greek authorities do not give the Olymbic flame to the British for the 2012 games, if they do not start respecting Greek Civilisation and furthermore return the Parthenon Marbles to Athens
The refurbishment of the trireme, already underway is estimated to cost about 300000 Euros and the organization that funded it is expected to file a lawsuit.
The Olympias trireme was built in 1987 and was designed by the British naval architect John Coates. Various sources, including Aeschylus's detailed descriptions of the warship in his Tragedies and archaeological finds, were used in order to make the warship exactly how it was thousands of years ago when it was the fear of Greece’s enemys. Upon completion, the ship proved to be as fast and manoeuvrable as it was described in the ancient texts.
In trails in 1987 the trireme achieved a cruising speed up to 6 knots when rowed continuously for 30 miles, with an average of 5 knots. It reached 9 knots in sprints, and sailed at 10.8 knots under sail with a following wind.
The trireme’s ties with Britain do not end with its British architect John Coates. In 1993 the Olympias travelled down the River Thames as part of the celebrations of 2,500 years of Greek democracy.
John Coates died in 2010.