NEWS

In Brief

Olympics

IOC’s Oswald: We can’t afford any more delays Preparations for the Athens 2004 Olympics cannot afford any more delays but the Greeks may be capable of presenting «the magic of Games» because of their cultural heritage, the International Olympic Committee official responsible for overseeing the preparations said yesterday. Denis Oswald told the Athens News Agency that too much time had been lost. «The result is that we now have a very strict timetable in which to complete all the projects. We have no time to waste. If any unforeseen problems arise we will have difficulties,» he told the Greek news agency in Salt Lake City. «You Greeks will be able to present the magic of the Games, relying on your cultural heritage. But first you need the basic installations. You have to transport the athletes. You have to provide hospitality. If you do that, you can use your inventiveness to prepare outstanding Games.» EARTHQUAKES Zakynthos pupils given drill, sent home ‘to reassure public’ Schoolchildren on the Ionian island of Zakynthos were yesterday given a lesson on how to react in an earthquake situation after two moderate quakes – measuring 4.0 and 4.1 on the Richter scale – shook their island on Sunday. The pupils, who had been due to go on an excursion after the morning lesson, were sent home due to bad weather, said Zakynthos Mayor Dionysis Gasparos, who added that the point of the drill and scheduled outing was to reassure islanders who fear a stronger quake. He said schools would remain open. IKA Clinics open, for five days Social Security Foundation (IKA) clinics reopen today marking the end of a five-day nationwide strike by IKA doctors who are demanding payment of back wages, the hiring of more nursing staff and permanent employment for colleagues on open-ended contracts. But doctors will resume 5-day strike action from Tuesday, February 19, until Monday, February 25 – not from today, as stated in previous reports. Food checks A high-level delegation of officials from the EU’s food and consumer protection unit is to meet Agricultural Minister Giorgos Drys in Athens on Thursday to demand that Greece take the necessary measures to meet EU standards for food production and monitoring, reports said yesterday. The EU officials, who believe the ministry has not responded to their earlier demands, are especially concerned over the state of Greek slaughterhouses, the absence of tests on animal feed and systematic destruction of infected fodder to protect against Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and other diseases carried by animals, and the inadequate monitoring of the process of distribution and disposal of meat. Stone-thrower A person who lurks at the junction of Syngrou and Poseidonos avenues, throwing stones at cars, attacked two more drivers in as many days. On Sunday night and again yesterday morning stones broke the windscreens of a car in each incident but caused no injuries. Over a dozen such attacks have occurred since shortly before Christmas. Two people have been injured. Hospital blitz. Opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis yesterday criticized the state health system once again following a visit to Athens’s Sotiria Hospital, which he said lacked the infrastructure and resources to offer acceptable care. Karamanlis said the 100-year-old hospital lacked vital equipment, computers and parking space – the latter due to spaces allegedly being rented by the Attiko Metro company and thus hindering patients’ access to the hospital. He also noted a wing for AIDS patients was closed due to staff shortages. Princess The British Embassy in Athens has opened a book of condolences for Princess Margaret. The book will be open from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. until Friday. Refugee ‘mafia.’ The Doctors of the World organization has called for the eviction of 25 troublesome Kurdish refugees allegedly responsible for thefts, illegal trade, sexual harassment and even murder from the refugee camp it oversees in Pendeli, on the northern outskirts of Athens. The non-governmental organization said yesterday it had approached the police for support, saying it had no other option but to appeal for outside aid to remove the 25 men from the refugee camp. The troublesome residents were asked to leave over a year ago but refuse to go, saying they will burn down the camp if evicted, the organization said.