Dispute Over Olympics Medal Design

— A dispute has broken out in Australia over an embarrassing design on the medals for next month’s Sydney Olympics which depict a Roman colosseum rather than a Greek temple.

Australia’s Greek language newspaper O Kosmos described the medal design as “The Ultimate Ignorance” and demanded Athens should not repeat the mistake at the Summer Olympics in 2004.

“The colosseum is a stadium of blood. It has nothing to do with the Olympic ideals of peace and brotherhood,” O Kosmos editor George Hadjivassilis told Reuters.

No Opera House

“We realize it is too late and too expensive to change the medals now but the mistake must never be repeated.” Greece was the home of the ancient Olympic games.

Sydney Games organizers blamed the International Olympic Committee (IOC), saying it vetoed plans to put the city’s Opera House on the medals and instead ordered a “generic colosseum” as background.

They said the IOC advised that the traditional colosseum design they wanted should be derived from a 1928 medal by Italian sculpture Guiseppe Cassioli for the Amsterdam Games.

The officials said the design is a generic colosseum, not the famous Roman one.

But Wojciech Pietranik, who designed the Sydney medals, told the Australian newspaper he used the Roman Colosseum as a model.

“It was supposed to show Nike, the Goddess of Victory, visiting Sydney [depicted by the Opera House] … but there was a change because of the rules,” Pietranik said.

‘Clearly the Colosseum’

The newspaper quoted Australian history professors as saying the Sydney medals were clearly of the Roman Colosseum.

“Just because they made a mistake in 1928 and Greece either didn’t spot it or ignored it then isn’t a reason to keep repeating it,” Hadjivassilis said.