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Athens Olympic Organizer Quits

December 4, 2000

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ The No. 2 official of the organizing team for the Athens Olympics quit Monday in yet another high-level shake-up leading to the 2004 Games.

Petros Sinadinos resigned as general manager for ``personal reasons,″ the organizing committee said.

``We cannot stop because he has resigned,″ said Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, the head of the committee. ``We move forward on our goal.″

She did not give any details for the resignation. Sinadinos could not immediately be reached for comment.

Sinadinos, an architect who took the position in June, had expressed frustration with government red tape that slowed progress in planning.

His departure could signal escalating battles for control between the government and organizers. It’s also another blow in attempts to project stability after the International Olympic Committee warned that delays could jeopardize the games.

An IOC review team last month praised Athens for making strides in overcoming problems but noted that organizers could not afford further stumbles.

The IOC executive supervising the Athens planning called the resignation an ``internal problem″ that should not distract the Olympic effort.

``For this past six months there has been a great change in Athens, a lot of progress,″ Jacque Rogge said at an IOC meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Athens was the host city for the rebirth of the Olympics in 1896 but some critics say contemporary Greece lacks the resources and political unity to manage the complexities of the modern games.

Sinadinos, 47, was part of the group put together by the organizing committee head, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, to try to restore international confidence in the preparations.

He replaced business executive Costas Bakouris, who was forced out in a major management reshuffle overseen by Angelopoulos-Daskalaki.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas praised the ``very positive″ influence of Sinadinos during a ``critical period.″

Since being awarded the games in 1997, Athens has faced a revolving-door leadership.

In July 1999, Stratis Stratigis, a lawyer and professor, abruptly resigned as the committee president. His replacement, central banker Panagiotis Thomopoulos, lasted until May when Angelopoulos-Daskalaki took over.

In October, Premier Costas Simitis fired a senior 2004 official for feuding with the Cabinet minister who controls major projects for the games. Before his dismissal, Costas Liaskas sought outside technical advisers help supervise the construction.

Last month, Simitis dropped Culture Minister Theodoros Pangalos after he complained about government policies and direction. The Culture Ministry, whose portfolio includes sports, is closely involved in Olympic preparations.

On Friday, the top communications adviser to Angelopoulos-Daskalaki resigned. Yannis Roubatis had served as spokesman for the governing Socialists and was a European Parliament member for the party.

Rogge has appealed for a ``truce″ between Greek organizers and the government.