And the winner is? 

Summer Olympics start Aug. 13

Four years after former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch declared Sydney was the "best Olympics ever" the Olympic flame is about to be lit again in Europe where the movement started more than 2,700 years ago.

After a journey across all the continents, on Aug. 13 the Olympic torch will enter Athens’ Olympic Stadium in Greece and so will begin another fantastic 16 days of sporting excellence.

During the past 18 months the amount of security and the lack of transportation in Athens has dominated headlines.

This will be the first summer Olympics since Sept. 11, 2001 and the Greeks have faced enormous challenges meeting security standards and revamping their transportation system.

There have been civil rights demonstrations in protest to the hundreds of cameras that have been installed on the streets of Athens and the enormous security force that will descend on the city during the Games.

The city will host approximately 70,000 military and police personnel as well as a state-of-the-art security zeppelin, which will float over the city and keep watch on the crowds with high-resolution cameras.

The security operation is estimated to have cost the Greeks $1.2 billion Euro (Cdn $1.9 billion), which, coincidentally, is the same amount of money the entire Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics is expected to cost Canadian taxpayers.

The transportation network in the Greek capital has also had a huge overhaul with more than 200 kilometres of new road and/or upgrades.

There has also been 7.7 km of new metro lines added, as well as 23.7 km of tram network, 40 km of suburban railway (reaching the Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos) and a new Traffic Management Centre.

At home, Canada’s biggest Olympic challenge has centred on the medal tally. In Sydney, Canada won three gold medals and finished 24th over-all.

That ranking forced the Canadian Olympic Committee to push for stricter selection criteria and as a result there is a smaller team going to Athens.

Canada's team includes 266 athletes (134 women and 132 men) competing in 28 disciplines. By comparison, the Australian Olympic Committee will be sending 481 athletes.

Despite the fewer numbers Canada has several strong gold medal chances and Daniel Igali from Surrey is among the best in this elite group.

Igali, who is originally from Nigeria, honed his skills at Simon Fraser University and went undefeated in 116 collegiate matches.

He won gold in Sydney in the 69 kg division and while he has had a plate inserted in his upper spine to help cope with chronic neck injuries, Igali is still one of the most feared wrestlers in the world and a genuine bulldog on the mat.

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