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Athens Wants IOC To End Utimatums

October 11, 2000

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ The official overseeing construction for the 2004 Olympics wants the IOC to stop issuing ultimatums and let the organizers concentrate on their work.

Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis also urged the International Olympic Committee to end its warnings about Greece’s ability to prepare for the games.

Laliotis’ comments came after a top IOC official said Athens must agree to move up the deadline for completion of sports venues by one year.

The comments reinforced reports that the head of the organizing committee was thinking of resigning because of frustration with government bureaucracy.

Gianna Daskalaki-Angelopoulos, who ran the successful bid effort, has been in London the past week. She is to discuss the games with Premier Costas Simitis next week.

She acknowledged in a recent TV interview that ``theoretically, the IOC can remove the games from Greece.″

Athens organizers currently work with a number of ministers responsible for different aspects of the games. It is a time consuming process that critics say leads to red tape.

``An operating system must quickly be found that can bring results,″ Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos said. ``I consider that the new period of crisis that our organization is going through must make us face our responsibilities.″

Former Premier Constantine Mitsotakis, one of the country’s elder statesmen, added that he is worried about preparations.

``I was the first to express doubts and said I am frustrated that the games may not take place. Since then, six to eight months have gone by and, unfortunately, things have confirmed my fears,″ Mitsotakis told Athens’ Alpha channel. ``We are not doing at all well.″

Jacques Rogge, the IOC executive in charge of the Athens Games, said Tuesday that Greeks must quit bickering and unite to overcome three years of delays.

About 30 percent of the facilities still need to be built and the government has said the work will be done by March 2004. The IOC says the timetable is unacceptable.

But Laliotis said the projects will be done ``far ahead of the timetable we have submitted,″ without providing a new date.

He added the IOC ``must let us work, without issuing ultimatums and without danger mongering.″

Rogge said 2004 officials and the government should call a ``four-year truce.″

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said he understood ``the anxiety and interest of Rogge,″ but Athens was ``preparing to organize the best Olympic Games.″

A government spokesman also promised Greece will overcome delays in signing an agreement to hold the 2004 Paralympics. The International Paralympics Committee has express concern because Greece had shown minimal interest so far.

Reppas added that Greece was expecting a visit by Paralympic president Robert Steadward in November to sign a contract.

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