Petralia sets targets in 50-day plan

Greece’s top Olympic minister outlined yesterday an unconventional 50-day plan to push Athens over the starting line for the August 13-29 Games. On the eve of the 50-day countdown, Deputy Culture Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia called on the public to fulfill some unusual quotas to prepare the city for the Games. «Fifty days before the Olympics, I believe that planting 10 trees, taking down five ugly signs, filling two potholes in the pavement or painting one apartment block is worth more than 100 nice speeches,» she told local government officials. «Discussions, planning, doubts, competitions and rows… should have happened in 1997, 1998 or latest 1999,» she said. Greece has been beset by delays since winning the right to host the Olympics in 1997, with officials admitting that more than two years were lost to infighting and inefficiency. The conservative minister said preparations had not gone as planned but blamed her Socialist predecessors who lost the March general elections. «The new government certainly cannot correct the mistakes of the past,» said Palli-Petralia.