Concerns about traffic for 2004

Athletes and officials battled heavy traffic to reach the Olympic table-tennis venue yesterday, but later praised the facility on the first day of a test competition. «As a venue, it is one of the best in the world. I believe we have not gone to a better one,» said Anastassios Reiniotis, a member of the Greek team. Athens’s chronic traffic chaos created difficulties in reaching the venue, located in the suburb of Galatsi about 4 kilometers (2.4 miles) west of central Athens. Olympic organizers say special lanes will be kept open for athletes and officials during the August 13-29 Games. «Not so good with traffic, many cars. By (the) Olympic Games, maybe it is better. Now, at this tournament, it is a problem,» said Josef Plachy, a player from the Czech Republic. The green-roofed facility, which will host table tennis and rhythmic gymnastics, is also is not completed. Cement bags and garbage lay strewn outside the venue. Security was tight and anyone entering the facility had to walk about 350 meters (1,155 feet) along a muddy road to the entrance of the venue. «Every two minutes a policeman comes and checks the area,» Reiniotis said. The table-tennis competition ends on Sunday. Test events are needed to assess venues and make any changes before the Olympics. Today, organizers have planned a Paralympic test event for bocci. (AP)