NEWS

Opposition, IOC official express fears over 2004

Expressing grave fears over the course of Greece’s preparations for the 2004 Olympics, opposition leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday called on the prime minister to brief Parliament on the matter. Similar anxiety was voiced in a letter from a top International Olympics Committee official leaked yesterday to the press In the letter sent last month to Athens 2004 organizing committee president Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, the head of the supervisory committee for the Athens Games, said delays have put construction projects at risk. Denis Oswald demanded that specific answers on timetables should be made available to IOC officials due in Athens on November 21 for an inspection tour. We believe that the situation in the construction area is at risk, Oswald said. For the next meeting, for all projects that have suffered delays in the last months, we would like to receive a detailed explanation about the measures that will be taken to ensure final delivery on time. The renewed expression of IOC concern over preparations for what Athens promises will be the best Games ever ends a comparative lull that followed last year’s roasting by then IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch – who had warned the Games were in danger. It coincides with the surprise complaint this week by the new public works minister, Vasso Papandreou, that foot-dragging by her predecessor, Costas Laliotis, had rendered doubtful the completion of some of the Olympics-linked projects undertaken by her ministry. Yesterday, Papandreou met Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos – whose ministry she has accused of stalling road projects due to concern for adjacent antiquities – to discuss alternative solutions for road projects. We are on a good course, she told journalists afterward. We will accelerate procedures and we will be ready according to timetable. This was disputed by New Democracy leader Karamanlis, who wrote to PM Costas Simitis demanding that he should brief Parliament on the course of preparations. Karamanlis said government acts and omissions are causing intense concern over the course being followed, and claimed that costs have doubled, while projects that should be ready have not even begun.