The medals have been given out and the cheering crowds have dispersed. But in Athens, the work's not over. The behind-the-scenes crews that arranged for all of the equipment and supplies to be brought into Greece for the Olympic Games are now busy moving most of it back out again—a task that should have been an Olympic event in itself. Everything from NBC's broadcast equipment to the dirt on the baseball fields had to be imported. Yes, you read that right—even the dirt. It seems that Greece does not have the right kind of dirt for baseball diamonds, so it had to be shipped in from abroad.
The International Olympic Committee contracted with Schenker, a German trade logistics company, to handle many of the logistics and trade tasks. To hold down costs, Schenker used ATA Carnets to get many of the goods into and out of Greece without having to pay duties or taxes. ATA Carnets are a form of passports for merchandise and are widely used for international trade shows where products are brought into a country for demonstration and exhibit purposes. ATA Carnets are good in over 75 countries (including Greece) and are overseen by the Parisbased International Chamber of Commerce.
Unfortunately, Carnets could not be used for the dirt that was imported, so duties were levied on it. That's because the dirt will stay in Greece now that the games are over.Who knows, maybe that will spur local interest in the game, and baseball will one day become Greece's national pastime too.