NEWS

Olympic venues confusion

As the confusion over the status of Olympic venues intensifies, almost 80 percent of Greeks believe the country was right to host the Olympic Games, according to a poll released yesterday. Sections of the Greek media had criticized Olympic organizers recently, suggesting empty venues were prone to theft and vandalism. Organizers (ATHOC) replied yesterday, saying they had removed any valuable items from the venues and that since the Paralympics ended on Sept. 28, the police were responsible for stadium security. ATHOC said it had transferred its equipment from the stadiums to its warehouse, adding that an inventory from all the sites found an «exceptionally small» amount of items to be missing. Twelve sites have already been handed over to the Culture Ministry, while the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works Ministry has asked for a delay before taking on another five, including the Hellenikon complex. There is a suggestion that the ministry does not want responsibility for the sites at all, preferring to pass it on to Olympic Properties, the company set up to manage the sites in the post-Olympic era and ensure their long-term viability. However, the company’s management seems reluctant to take control of the venues until its remit is formally defined. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with Olympic Properties President Christos Hadziemannuil and Alternate Culture Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia yesterday to discuss the matter. ATHOC is due to pass on another 23 sites between October 10 and 30. Meanwhile, yesterday’s poll indicated that some 72 percent of Greeks think that organizing the Olympics has benefited the country, while 58 percent feel Greece is in a more powerful position internationally since the August Games.