Athens falls short of vow for green Games, UN organization says

OSLO (Reuters) – Athens, host of this year’s Olympics opening on August 13, has fallen short of organizers’ promises for a green Games, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has said. In a letter to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge, UNEP head Klaus Toepfer said «much more needed to be done to ensure that the environment is even more central in future Olympic Games.» He said Athens organizers had been forced to put their primary focus on security because of fears of terrorist attacks, perhaps at the expense of the environment. «These 2004 Summer Olympic Games are being organized in one of the most difficult atmospheres of recent times with heightened concerns about security,» Toepfer said. «The organizers have taken this issue seriously to ensure a safe and secure Olympics. But this has probably come at a price and other considerations, including parts of their environmental program, may, alas, have fallen short of their initial aspirations.» Greece won the bid to host the 2004 Games promising to address air and water quality, fragile natural and cultural areas, traffic and waste management. Green groups have said that Athens, the IOC and the government had all failed. Critics say that basic environmental standards such as the use of solar power, non-toxic building materials, recycling and waste management had not been implemented in large complexes such as the Olympic Village.