A new Athens due by 2004

The Athens that will host the 2004 Olympics will be a vastly different city to the Athens of today, said a government spokesman after Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Athens 2004 chief Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and ministers involved in the Olympic effort met yesterday to discuss the capital and its 610-million-euro makeover. «The image and operation of the city, especially during the Olympic Games, is the essence of the Games themselves and also the source of impressions that the local resident and the Olympic visitor will come away with,» Olympic spokesman Telemachos Hytiris said. «The Athens of 2004 will be nothing like the Athens of 2000.» According to the plan, an estimated 20,000 billboards will be torn down (of which 800 are already gone), trees will be planted around stadiums and on major thoroughfares leading up to them, buildings will be renovated, new street signs will be set up, traffic will be reorganized and pedestrian walkways will be completed around archaeological sites. One of the survivors, Maria Begliti, secretary to Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis, who died in the accident, said he had written a letter to OA after the plane presented problems on a trip to China. «He demanded apportioning of blame for the maintenance and for the problem that arose, but in the end he did not send the letter,» she said.