Sports federations chase after scarce funds for 2004 preparations

In the runup to the 2004 Olympics, Greece’s sports federations are competing for scarce state money to help train their athletes. As former International Olympic Committee chairman Juan Antonio Samaranch has said, the success of the 2004 Games will depend a lot on the accomplishments of Greek athletes. However, Greece, despite impressive progress made lately, is too small a country to be able to compete for medals in all 28 sports. As last Monday’s meeting between the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) and the heads of Greek sports federations showed, money is scarce, to say the least. For the year 2001, the 28 federations will divide among them a total of 2.6 billion drachmas. HOC plans to ask the state and 2004, the Games organizers, to contribute at least 5 billion drachmas for each of the years 2002-2004. Dividing the scarce resources is a very contentious matter. However, the federation heads emerged from Monday’s meeting surprisingly united. The federations agreed that the most money would go to those sports with the greatest chances of success. Weightlifting, for example, will get the largest amount, although it was not specified how much. As long as we agreed on the criteria for funding, distributing the sums was quite an easy task, said Thanassis Beligratis, president of the Volleyball Federation. With no past performances at the Olympics, the Volleyball Federation will receive less money than, say, wrestling, even though the number of volleyball players exceeds the number of wrestlers. Wrestling is another sport where Greece ranks among the top internationally. The whole procedure was very meritocratic, said Wrestling Federation president Theodoros Hamakos. Still, the less glamorous sports will find themselves will very little money. We must find a way not to treat the smaller federations unfairly, conceded Yiannis Sgouros, president of the Weightlifting Federation.

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