NEWS

Rogge here for Games

IOC President Jacques Rogge arrived in Athens yesterday, in another sign of the inexorable countdown to the opening of the Olympics next week, and declared his satisfaction with the preparations and his confidence that the Games would be successful. Earlier, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had chaired a meeting of government ministers and other top officials involved in the Games preparations and all expressed their confidence that Athens was headed for a successful Olympiad. After years of anxiety over delays, venues are ready, major transport infrastructure projects are operational and an unprecedented security network is in place. Yesterday’s meeting focused on security, transportation and communications. The relevant ministers said they were ready for anything that might occur, noting unexpected situations might arise. «I think it’s a magic moment because this is the culmination of seven years of preparation and in a little more than a week’s time, the Games will begin and the whole world is waiting for that and we are very excited about that,» said Rogge shortly after his arrival. «I’m sure that Athens is ready. You know that the IOC has always expressed its confidence in its Greek friends. We knew that the promises of the organizing committee and also of the government would be fulfilled and I’m very glad to see that that is the case and that we are heading to very, very successful Games,» he added. Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis, who is responsible for security, spared a thought for citizens who have patiently endured years of major construction and now the traffic restrictions being implemented for the Games. «We can say that everything is going according to plan. I would like, first of all, to thank the citizens very much, because they are behaving in a way no one would have believed,» Voulgarakis said. Rogge said the security measures would not affect the mood of the Games, adding that he commended the Greek government for «having done everything that is humanly possible» for security.  «Well, the message is that Athens is ready and that Athens will give a magical Games. And I know that all the athletes around the world have had the dream to come and compete in Athens. The doors are open and now they can come in, and in a week’s time the big event will begin,» Rogge said.