SPORTS

IOC chief praises head organizer’s efforts

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge on Monday credited his organization’s «formidable partnership» with the president of the Athens organizing committee for managing to get Greece ready for the Summer Games. Athens 2004 chief Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki was also awarded by the International Olympic Academy for managing to overcome serious delays in Athens’s preparations. «A few days before the Olympic Games, which I have no doubt will be a great success, let me thank… Athens 2004 for our formidable partnership led in such an inspiring and dynamic way by Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki,» Rogge said. Rogge, accompanied by former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, made the comments during a ceremony on the Pnyx Hill facing the ancient Acropolis to mark the start of an annual sports seminar hosted by the academy at its facilities in Ancient Olympia, where the Olympic were first born 2,780 years ago. During his stay for the events marking the academy seminar, Rogge will meet with Premier Costas Karamanlis and Olympic organizers and visit the main Olympic stadium complex. Founded in 1961, the IOC-sponsored academy’s mission is to promote the Olympic movement by hosting educational seminars and conferences. This year, the academy will also host athletes competing in the shot put, which will take place in the sanctuary where the Games were born in 776 BC and held every four years until they were abolished in AD 393. They were revived in Athens in 1896. «When the International Olympic Committee awarded the Olympic Games to Athens, it was thanks to her relentless efforts, willingness and energy,» said Academy President and IOC member Nikos Filaretos of Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. But despite spearheading the bid that persuaded the IOC to give Athens the Games in 1997, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki was swept aside by Greece’s former Socialist government. She was brought back in 2000 after Samaranch warned that construction and organizational delays threatened the Athens Olympics. Although Samaranch made no comment during the Pnyx ceremony, last year he said Athens came very close to losing the Olympics. «She was confronted with many difficulties which she was able to surpass. We can thus be sure today that the forthcoming Olympic Games of Athens will be crowned with great success thanks to» Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, Filaretos said.