APRIL 20, 2012 10:13AM
The image is wonderful to think about. At the start of the London Olympics, the trireme Olympias, with 170 of Britain’s finest rowers at the oars, was to proceed down the Thames bearing the Olympic flame. But it is not to be.
As reported by the Financial Times: Martin Green, the head of ceremonies for London’s organizing committee (Locog), said there were “major concerns” from London’s transport and security agencies that the trireme would create overcrowding along the Thames as the flame passed by….There was also discussion about people throwing themselves off bridges,” he said.
The cancellation has sparked threats of a lawsuit by the organization that funded the refurbishment of the trireme. 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.
The trireme Olympias has a direct tie to Britain. British naval architect John Coates, who died in 2010 and was the ex-chief naval architect at the Ministry of Defence, was deeply involved in the design of the Olympias, which was built in 1987. This would have been the second visit to the River Thames by the Olympias. The trireme had previously visited London in 1993 as part of the celebrations of 2,500 years of Greek democracy.