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Greek Mayor Calls for Olympic Vote

February 6, 2002

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ The mayor of an Athens suburb called Wednesday for a local referendum on Olympic venues after growing opposition to some construction projects for the 2004 Olympics.

A multi-sports complex and a tram to ease transportation during the games are to be built in the Paleo Faliron area, but some residents fear tram tracks along the coast could clog already busy streets and hinder access to beaches.

The multi-sports complex _ which is to house boxing, tae kwon do and handball preliminaries _ will include two stadiums. Residents complain the area will be too crowded and want one stadium relocated to the site of the old airport, where many other venues have been moved.

Paleo Faliron mayor Dimitris Kapsanis said he would investigate how widespread opposition to the projects.

``We are examining how we can have a referendum,″ Kapsanis said.

Athens 2004 organizers have said all venues were designed to improve neighborhoods. Construction on the tram is due to begin next month and be completed by April 2004 at an estimated cost of $300 million.

Protesters have threatened to refer the issue to Greece’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, and to the European Union justice system in an attempt to stop construction.

Paleo Faliron is one of several Athens areas where residents are protesting Olympics projects. Many want to stop works spanning the already congested capital, home to nearly half the country’s 11 million people.

The Greek government, however, has been warned repeatedly by the International Olympic Committee that it is well behind schedule in Olympic construction projects, especially in the areas of transportation and accommodations.

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