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World Rowing Group Could Seek New HQ

August 11, 2003

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ The world rowing federation may be looking for new Olympic housing because the hotel it planned to use had its operating license suspended after salmonella left the German team too sick to compete in last week’s test events.

``I expect that the Greek public health ministry will make a sweep through all the hotels in the area,″ said Matt Smith, executive director of the rowing federation, known as FISA. ``If there are any hotels of concern we will know within the next month or two so that we could inform our national federations and teams who are choosing to live outside the Olympic Village.″

If health officials do not restore the hotel’s license, Smith said FISA could face a difficult task trying to re-book the 70 rooms that had already been reserved. Nearly all the city’s best hotel rooms in Athens are booked.

The illness of 62 members of the German rowing team was a blow to Athens organizers struggling to show the city is ready for the game. A health ministry report Saturday said the cause was salmonella.

The Development Ministry temporarily suspended the operating license of the Nireas hotel near the Olympic rowing center in Schinias, 18 miles northeast of Athens. Health inspectors were examining the 123-room hotel and its restaurant.

Other problems surfaced Monday:

_ The mayor of the town hosting Olympic equestrian events accused organizers of creating potential flooding problems by not installing a drainage system.

``It is an agricultural area and water from the equestrian site will have to go into streams,″ said Mayor Fotis Magoulas of Marcopoulo. ``There is no other solution, we will flood.″

_ The coach of the Ukrainian archery team was bitten by a stray dog last week while jogging at a park next to the site of a pre-Olympic test tournament. The incident has intensified a debate on the fate of thousands of street dogs in Athens before next year’s games.

_ The main opposition conservative party accused the government of shoddy preparations. New Democracy deputy Fani Pali-Petralia said two Olympic test events show the government had done a poor job in choosing sites and organizing personnel.

Olympic organizers had no immediate response on the complaints.

There was a bit of advice to the organizers, too:

Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates told the organizing committee that pre-event criticism is an Olympic fact of life. Sydney hosted the 2000 Olympics.

``If you were to go back and look at the publicity we got in the year leading into the games here, you could be excused for thinking the games might not have happened,″ Coates said. ``The criticism in Australia was more in some of the management areas, marching bands, ticketing, those types of areas. And they were as big or bigger headlines than the Greeks are getting now on construction.″

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