Compromise on IOC press briefing

The power struggle between government officials and the Athens 2004 organizing committee over who will attend press conferences by visiting International Olympic Committee inspection teams took a new twist yesterday, with the government announcing a change to the schedule. When the IOC Coordination Commission, led by International Rowing Federation head Denis Oswald, arrives for a two-day inspection tomorrow, it will talk to Prime Minister Costas Simitis – in a meeting attended by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, and followed by a joint press conference – at the end of the visit instead of at the start, as was the case until now. This, Venizelos told a Foreign Press Association lunch in Athens, will allow the IOC to give the government a direct account of its observations on Greece’s Olympic preparations. He said this would be more polite than the current practice. Last month, the culture minister – after Simitis, the most senior government official involved in Greece’s Olympic preparations – caused a stir by announcing he would attend press conferences given by Oswald and Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. The decision to change the visit schedule is in line with a proposal by Oswald in an October 5 letter to Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, leaked to the press this month. Once again Venizelos promised that Olympic construction projects will be ready in time for the Games. The biggest problem is Greeks’ tendency toward self-humiliation, he said.

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