NEWS

Athens, IOC stress need for progress

In a day of meetings dealing with the Athens 2004 Olympics, Prime Minister Costas Simitis stressed that the organization of a successful Olympiad was a national issue and the president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, said that if Athens kept up the pace of preparations then there will be an excellent result. Simitis yesterday chaired a meeting of all government ministers and officials involved in the preparations for the Games, in which they discussed the preparations and the visit to Athens last week of the IOC’s Coordination Commission. The Olympic Games, the road to 2004, our great effort for a special organization of the Games, is a national issue. It concerns Greece, it concerns the Greeks, it concerns all the Greeks. It heralds Greece to the world and opens Greece to the world, Simitis said after the meeting. He was flanked by Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who heads the Athens 2004 organizing committee, and Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who is the senior minister in charge of preparations. Simitis called for unity so that the Games can be a success. We must keep the Olympic Games far from party politics and political exploitation. All the Greeks must work together to organize them, he said. The preparations, however, have been hampered at times by power struggles between government officials and the Athens 2004 committee, perhaps prompting yesterday’s show of unity. There are problems. There will be problems, Simitis said. It is our duty to overcome them, working with enthusiasm, working every day, with decisiveness. In Lausanne, Rogge met with Foreign Minister George Papandreou for talks on efforts to achieve an Olympic Truce in time for the 2004 Games. Regarding Athens 2004, Rogge said: I have absolute confidence in Athens’s successful organization of the Olympic Games. We will have good games in Athens, there is no doubt about that. I received the report of the IOC Coordination Commission’s chairman… regarding the great progress which left him satisfied. However, he repeated his advice and appeal for the efforts to continue at the same pace, so that there will be an excellent result. Best gets better