NEWS

Athens 2004 juggles cabins

Athens 2004 organizers said yesterday they had succeeded in overcoming a shortfall in accommodation for foreign officials expected in the capital for the August 13-29 Games, in a move that will further reduce the already tiny number of luxury rooms available to visitors. The problem emerged after Royal Olympic Cruises, the company that owns three of the 11 cruise ships intended to be used in August as floating hotels moored at Piraeus, filed for bankruptcy late last year, and ROC’s creditors ordered the ships to be sold. Yesterday, Athens 2004 said some 250 foreign officials who were initially to have stayed on the Olympia Explorer, Olympia Voyager and Olympia Countess had agreed to move to two of the other eight cruise ships, or to Athens hotels. The relocation will affect the national Olympic committees of France (which had reserved 105 cabins), the US (60 cabins) and another 18 countries that had reserved a total of 81 cabins. Negotiations are also under way with members of the Turin 2006 Winter Olympics organizing committee – which had reserved another 66 cabins on ROC vessels – to move to another cruise ship or hotel. «Once the new accommodation arrangements have been finalized, Athens 2004 will have fully covered its contractual duties to members of the Olympic family that had booked cabins on ROC vessels,» an Athens 2004 statement said. Organizers added that they had secured the return of advance payments made to ROC. With most rooms in the capital’s top hotels already booked for foreign officials during the Games, Athens 2004 organizers decided to charter 11 cruise ships – including the new Queen Mary II, the world’s largest liner which can carry 2,200 passengers – to provide urgently needed extra accommodation.