Double the money for our athletes

Hoping that in 2004 Greece will win twice the number of Olympic medals it won in 2000 at the Sydney Games, the government said yesterday it was doubling state funding for athletes’ training. Speaking after an interministerial meeting on Olympic preparations and before a forthcoming inspection by International Olympic Committee officials, Deputy Press Minister Telemachos Hytiris said 4 billion drachmas – double last year’s budget – would be spent annually on athletes’ training for the Athens Games. The Hellenic Olympic Committee can also spend up to 1 billion drachmas a year on athletes’ preparation. «A satisfactory target for 2004 is 20 medals, and an ambitious target is double the medals we won at Sydney, that is, 26,» Hytiris said. He added that Greece can field up to 625 athletes, of which 325 will not have to take part in preliminary events. But Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said Greece would only field contestants where «a respectable result» could be expected.

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