NEWS

Athens 2004 boss holds up yellow card

Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki yesterday warned senior officials of the organizing committee that they had to shape up to get everything ready for the Olympics by next year, stressing that «all our heads are on the block.» Speaking to Athens 2004 general managers, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki called for strict adherence to the budget and indicated that changes in management positions would be made by December. She stressed that she would not accept slacking or bureaucratic mindsets. «All those who believe the Olympics are in 2004 are mistaken,» she said. «For us, the Games will be in 2003.» She was referring to the test events that must be held in the completed facilities next year. «All our heads are on the block,» she said. The organizing committee is expected to be reorganized so that personnel will be distributed according to events, facilities and services. According to sources, Athens 2004’s executives have noted the problems created by the fact that the organizing committee has grown greatly, and the difficulty in communication between about 20 general directorates. The difficulties are expected to intensify next year, when the organization enters the operational stage. Athens 2004’s president’s concern appears to be linked to the fact that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is shifting its interest gradually from construction projects to the level of services that will be provided during the Olympics. The Athens Games will be the first Olympics in which 39 test events will be held within the space of 10 months, covering all sports at all facilities. Ten events will be held in August 2003. This means that the Olympics’ operational center will have to be fully functional. It is estimated that about 15,000 volunteers will be involved, forming the core of volunteers for 2004. Angelopoulos-Daskalaki is to meet with Prime Minister Costas Simitis today to discuss a number of issues. The agenda, sources said, includes the issue of a 10-percent tax on income from the renting of apartments during the Olympics, which the organizing committee disagrees with. Organizers also want VAT on tickets to be reduced from 8 percent to 4 percent.