SPORTS

Elections won’t slow down 2004 plans, say officials

Greek officials and the IOC expressed confidence yesterday that a decision to hold early elections will not further delay preparations for the Athens Games. «The IOC is confident that Games preparations will not be affected by elections in Greece. Indeed, this is what both the prime minister and the leader of the opposition pledged to President Rogge in recent contacts,» IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies told The Associated Press. The election date means that Parliament will be disbanded one month before – stopping all legislative activity – to allow for campaigning. The campaign period in Greece often paralyzes activity in the government – which controls most of the main Olympic works. Telemachos Hytiris, the government’s Olympic spokesman, said the elections will not affect the organization of the Games. «The Olympic Games will not be a part of the election campaign because for Greece, the Olympic Games are a national issue,» Hytiris said. He added, however, that the government will probably stop Cabinet-level Olympic planning meetings for about one month during campaigning. Hytiris said that venue construction will not stop during the pre-election period but could not comment on developments if the Socialists lose. «If the government changes, there I do not know. I cannot tell you. If a new party with a new prime minister is elected, then I do not know what they will do,» he said. New Democracy spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said preparations will not be affected if his party wins the elections. «Greece has shouldered the responsibility of hosting the best possible Games. It is certain that we will live up to the challenge,» Roussopoulos said. «The Games should be left out of the domestic political rivalries and the electoral campaign.» (AP)