NEWS

Ticket sales pick up

Sales of Olympic tickets have begun to pick up as the Games approach and enthusiasm increases, with a record number sold on Thursday. Although organizers are far from reaching the target of selling 3.4 million of the 5.2 million tickets issued, the increase in sales has encouraged officials that sales will go well. They are also opening new ticket sales offices to cope with increasing demand. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday visited the Main Press Center near the Olympic Stadium complex and expressed confidence that the Games would be a success. «In a week’s time, the greatest celebration of sport and culture will begin at the Olympic Stadium,» he said. «We are ready for excellent Games in conditions of the greatest security,» he added. «All Greeks worked together with faith and vision,» said Karamanlis, whose conservative party came to power in March, succeeding the socialist PASOK party whose government had prepared for the Olympics after Athens won its bid in 1997 to host the Games. He was accompanied by IOC President Jacques Rogge, State Minister Theodoros Roussopoulos, Alternate Culture Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia and Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC) head Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. Today Karamanlis will visit the shooting and equestrian centers at Markopoulo and the rowing center at Schinias in eastern Attica. The Games organizers expressed optimism that ticket sales would go well, noting the number sold on Thursday. «Yesterday we sold close to 54,000 tickets, which is a new record. We will be opening new ticket sales points in Glyfada, Piraeus, on Ermou Street and early next week in Peristeri,» Michael Zacharatos, ATHOC’s general manager of communications, told a news briefing yesterday. «We do not like to brag about ticket sales; we still have three weeks to go,» he added. «In Sydney, they sold 1 million tickets in the first three days of the Games. The response we have been getting from the Greek people is overwhelmingly enthusiastic. We have sold 2.3 million tickets up to now and we have already reached 90 percent of our revenue targets.» On Thursday night, there were long queues at the ticket offices on Korai Street and the Panathenaic Stadium until 10 p.m. Athens 2004 also announced the start of operations of a call center aimed at providing information to athletes and visitors. The number is 210.373.2004 and the center can handle 30,000 calls daily.