SPORTS

Paralympics committee satisfied with progress

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) welcomed «encouraging» progress from Greek organizers yesterday at the end of a three-day review of preparations for Athens 2004 Games. «The progress made has been very encouraging. There are less than 600 days to go to the opening ceremony and we are entering the critical phase,» IPC chief Francois Terranova told a news conference yesterday. Athens has been turned into a large construction site with dozens of Olympics and Olympics-related projects well under way, including roadworks, extensions of the subway, construction of a suburban railway and a new tramway line. Terranova saluted progress on transport and accommodation issues as well as medical provision for the 4,000 competitors expected in September 2004. «There are still specific areas where we need to see particular progress such as IT sponsorship, the finalizing of the budget and promotion of the Games,» he said. The IPC delegation arrived on Monday; on that day it received a commitment from the Greek Culture Ministry to make Athens’s most famous landmark, the Acropolis, accessible to the disabled for the first time. «With the opportunity of the (2004) Olympics and Paralympics… two or three possible technical solutions are under consideration… to ensure handicapped persons access to the Acropolis rock,» said Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos. Specific proposals to adapt the 2,500-year-old monument, which sits atop a hill in the city center, will be unveiled next month, officials said. Access to the complex of temples, which includes the Parthenon, has remained largely unchanged since classical times with visitors ascending the stairs of the Propylaia. Athens came close to losing the Paralympics after contract delays in 2000 led the IPC to question the commitment of Greek organizers. (Reuters)