Gearing up for test events

With the first of a series of Athens Olympics test events just days away, the government’s three-member monitoring team, OPE, and Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos met yesterday to discuss necessary measures for Athens and the venues during the August trials. Seven of a total of 40 test events are scheduled to take place in and around Athens between August 6 and 28. The rowing, canoeing and kayak competitions will be held at Schinias; archery events at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens; two cycling events will be staged on the streets of downtown Athens as well as along a seaside avenue; equestrian events will be held at Markopoulo; a beach volleyball tournament is lined up for the Faliron coast in southern Athens; and a regatta will be held at Aghios Cosmas. Besides checking on venues and personnel, the test events will also test the coordination of state agencies, as well as between the government and Athens 2004, the Games organizing committee. The greatest challenge for organizers is expected to come from the cycling event in central Athens. Traffic will be disrupted and parking restrictions will be in force on streets along the race’s route. Residents will be notified in advance. Following yesterday’s meeting with the three-member monitoring team, Venizelos said OPE would convene at Athens 2004’s headquarters whenever this is deemed necessary during the staging of next month’s test events. The OPE team comprises Costas Kartalis, the general secretary for the Olympic Games; Deputy Culture Minister Nassos Alevras, charged with overseeing Olympic projects; and Marton Simitsek, one of Athens 2004’s executive directors. During August’s test events, OPE will need to cooperate closely with various relevant ministries – Public Order, Defense, Merchant Marine, Health, and Press – as well as local authorities. Full-scale security measures planned for the Olympics will be tested at two venues, Schinias and Faliron. A security team comprising approximately 2,400 members from the Greek police, port police, fire brigade and military, will be on duty. Simitsek noted yesterday that the test events would also involve the participation of 1,065 Athens 2004 staff members and 2,138 volunteers. Some 1,600 athletes will take part in the competition.

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