SPORTS

PM vouches for ‘perfect’ staging of 2004 Games

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that the 2004 Athens Olympics, troubled by delays and in-fighting, were back on track, despite a tight timetable to make up lost ground. «Our country will be ready in 2004 for a perfect organization,» Simitis told reporters. He said though precious time was wasted a few years ago, organizers have made up for it and preparations are now in full swing. «A few years ago, you could refer to delays… but today these are fewer and we fully control the development (of the projects). But we must stick to a tight schedule,» he said. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had warned Athens more than two years ago it risked losing the Games if it did not speed up work. Since then, organizers have convinced visiting IOC inspectors they are back on track. During an inspection in early November, the IOC said it was «favorably impressed by significant progress.» But Simitis said the Games will also have other benefits than merely to show that Greece can host a major international event. «The Games may be a financial weight but they will bring tangible benefits, such as tourism, and non-tangible ones… in the end we will see that they gave Greece a heightened international prestige and new financial opportunities,» he said. (Reuters)