To go or not to go: That is the question many Americans are grappling with when it comes to this summer's Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
Some travelers won't journey to the sports spectacular this August due to concerns over terrorism, unfinished facilities and crowds. But enthusiasts say nothing will stop them from attending an event that brings out the world's best athletes and fosters camaraderie among spectators from every corner of the Earth.
This will be the fourth trip to an Olympics for Nicholas Wolaver, of Atlanta, who attended the games in Atlanta (1996), Sydney (2000) and Salt Lake City (2002).
"Once you've attended one you kind of get hooked on it," said Wolaver, 31, who volunteered on an organizing committee at the Atlanta Olympics. "I started having interest as a kid, and I always wanted to go. Working at the Atlanta games was my first time. I knew when it was over that I really wanted to attend every one I could."
The allure of far-flung travel coupled with the fact that the Olympics is coming to its historical home is what interested David Sims, 50, of Fort Worth, Texas.
"I wouldn't be interested in going when it was in Atlanta or L.A. (1984); I think being in a foreign country gives it a whole different flavor," he said. "[Greece] is the birthplace of the Olympics, I just thought it would be cool.... It will be neat to see all the different countries marching in, especially with all that's going on in the world now."
But unlike previous games, many Americans are avoiding the Olympics this time around, said Susan Tanzman, owner of Martin Travel and Tours in Los Angeles.
"I have two or three clients going and that's it," she said. "I've had very little phone calls even asking or inquiring. With Sydney there was much more interest."
More than half the tickets for the Athens Olympics (search) remain unsold, with spectator demand apparently slow and corporate sponsors buying far fewer seats than four years ago, organizers said early this month.
But scoring event tickets isn't the most difficult part, said Tanzman.
"A lot of people who go to the Olympics, for some stupid reason, think prices are going to go down and they wait — especially when you read there are a lot of unsold tickets," she said. "But they're not going to get air at this point — the air is just not there."
Although Sims booked plane tickets in November, he said it was still "very expensive" and he couldn't get any flights arriving the day before the games or leaving immediately after them. He and his traveling companion are flying in a week before the games begin.
Other deterrents for potential Olympic-goers are news reports that the sports venues may not be completed and questions of adequate security, said Tanzman.
"Americans are very shy and afraid of things instead of saying, 'You know what, if it can happen here it can happen anywhere.'"
But neither danger nor unfinished construction will deter Wolaver or Sims.
"You always worry about that kind of stuff, but I know there's going to be a lot of security there," Sims said, adding that the tight security became obvious when he ordered tickets to the opening ceremony and was required to answer multiple personal questions and provide information such as his driver's license number.
Wolaver admitted he didn't jump into the decision to attend the Olympic Games.
"I did have some apprehension. I knew since 9/11 that things were going to be different. I knew my family would be more concerned, more so than Sydney," he said. "Everyone was uptight about the Atlanta games because it was a year and a half after the Oklahoma City bombing (search), and unfortunately something did happen. There's a risk everywhere you go, you can't let that govern the decisions you make."
But, Wolaver said, there's no competition between attending the games in person versus watching television — even if NBC is planning 1,210 hours of coverage.
"When you go to a city hosting the Olympics the city has a whole different energy to it. There's camaraderie between the different countries. Those are the experiences that make it worth the extra effort to go and attend."