SPORTS

Where are all the roads?

Over the past five years, Kathimerini has occasionally raised concerns over the choice of location for a prospective national weightlifting arena for the Athens Olympics in 2004, citing lack of accessibility to the region – Nikaia’s Selepitsari district close to Piraeus – as a major problem. But most parties involved in the project and weightlifting had claimed the opposite – until yesterday. Speaking at a press conference, Yiannis Sgouros, president of the weightlifting federation of Greece and general secretary of the sport’s inter- national federation, the IWF, disclosed that he was concerned whether certain aspects of the complex, especially roads leading to it, would meet the April 2003 deadline. The European Weightlifting Championships are expected to be held at the new stadium in 2003 as a trial run for the new complex a year before the Athens Olympics. Sgouros said he would submit a request to weightlifting’s international and European federations for the European Championships to be transferred to another arena, either in Athens or elsewhere in the country. We don’t want to be left open to criticism, Sgouros underlined, adding that he would ask for the European Championships to be held at a later date, perhaps December 2003. Sgouros also claimed that working relations between his federation and Athens 2004, organizer of the Games, were far from satisfactory. Federations need to be informed about developments far more frequently so that problems can be solved mutually. Individuals who had not participated in the Olympic bid are now assuming positions. Good for them, Sgouros said. But the point is that we must succeed at an organizational level, and, more importantly, in competition, he added. (Sgouros, considered a close ally of Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s main party rival, Development Minister Akis Tsochadzopoulos, lost his job as the general secretary for sport after last year’s elections.) Sgouros announced yesterday that his successor, Nikos Exarchos, has assured him that accommodation for athletes and sports officials in the Aghios Cosmas district, southern Athens, would be ready by March. Accommodation facilities at the Olympic Stadium and the Peace and Friendship Stadium are closed for renovation work at both complexes ahead of the Olympics. Meanwhile, the national weightlifting team’s coach, Christos Iakovou, said star members of his team who had been sidelined by injury over recent months, would compete at various competitions in the new year. The prime objective, he said, was not to register major lifts, but to ease them into competition again. Where the gods once walked