SPORTS

Athens becomes world's marathon capital

By George Georgakopoulos

The heart of all of the world's marathon races will now beat in Athens, after the government signed a memorandum of cooperation on January 27 with the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) that moves the latter's headquarters to the Greek capital.

The deal, which involves extensive publicity for Greece -- the birthplace of the marathon race -- was signed in Athens by Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos and Paco Borao, the association?s president.

According to the memorandum, AIMS will promote Greece as a global tourism destination during all of the races under its auspices around the world. Greece, in turn, has undertaken the responsibility of securing an office for AIMS in Athens and hiring two employees for its administrative support.

"We are excited about the development, as the association that represents every marathon race and every marathon runner in the world is locating its seat at the birthplace of the race. It is also bringing with it all of its values, those of liberty, democracy and personal and team effort,» said Geroulanos.

"We welcome AIMS and we are hoping this is the start of a long friendship,» he added.

The agreement has a five-year duration, rendering Athens the global capital of marathon and distance races.

For some time now, AIMS has been holding its annual conference in the Greek capital in the autumn to coincide with the Athens Classic Marathon.

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