NEWS

Rogge: Still time for the Games

IOC President Jacques Rogge and other senior officials of the International Olympic Committee met with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Saturday in an effort to hammer out difficulties in preparations for the 2004 Games. The IOC officials have given Greece a window of two weeks in which serious problems must be solved so that the Games can be ready on time. But Rogge stressed that «there is still time» for a successful Olympiad. The conservative government has moved swiftly on the issue and the prime minister himself has taken up the Culture Ministry portfolio, which includes overall Games supervision. The IOC’s Coordination Commission chief Denis Oswald and Olympic Games Executive Director Gilbert Felli accompanied Rogge. «This was a very positive meeting and the IOC very much welcomes Prime Minister Karamanlis’s decision to take the lead in managing the organization of the Games by taking responsibility for the Ministry of Culture. This demonstrates the importance that he and his government put on the preparations for the Games and their ultimately successful outcome,» Rogge said. «Our experts have confirmed to us that while a lot remains to be done, there is still time for the preparations to be successfully completed if all energies are mobilized and focused in the same direction. We look forward therefore to seeing some positive steps over the coming days and weeks. I realize how important the Games are to the Greek people and I’m sure that they will rise to the challenges that lie before them,» he said. Sources said Rogge commented after the meeting that «in two hours issues that had been outstanding for months were solved.» The problem areas are the roof of the main Olympic Stadium and of the aquatic center, the areas surrounding the venues which have still not been prepared in most cases, the suburban railway line and tram, as well as issues of Athens’s functioning during the Games, including a traffic control center. «We are in the last 100-meter sprint of the Games. Our message is that we are optimistic, we are working even harder, we are not relaxing,» Athens 2004 head Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said.