NEWS

IOC seeks disaster insurance

The International Olympic Committee is close to concluding a deal with insurers against the possibility of the Athens Games being called off, reports said yesterday. But both IOC and Greek officials stressed that such a decision did not reflect on the level of Greece’s preparations for the August Olympics. Britain’s Times daily quoted IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies as saying the move was «a policy issue whereby the IOC is looking to manage its risk regarding its core business, the Olympic Games.» Davies said an insurance deal would not indicate lack of confidence in Greece’s ability to deliver on its seven-year-old commitment to host the 2004 Olympics, 108 years after the first modern revival of the ancient Games was held in Athens. The Associated Press said the IOC has been negotiating with London-based insurers for a contingency policy worth over 160 million euros against full or partial cancellation of the Games. This would reportedly concern terrorist attacks or earthquakes more than anything else. In Athens, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos dismissed any link between Greece’s lagging preparations and the purported deal. «The IOC president said, some time ago, that the committee intended to insure future Olympic Games,» he said. «This is not something that concerns Athens, but is rather an overall IOC policy.» This was echoed by Deputy Culture Minister for the Olympics Fanni Palli-Petralia. Yesterday, a delegation of IOC inspectors arrived in Athens to assess the progress of Olympic works. Today, the visiting officials, headed by IOC Vice President Denis Oswald, are to inspect the main Olympic stadium, where work is under way to install a 19,000-ton steel-and-glass roof.