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Greece Vows to Meet 2004 Deadlines

September 12, 2002

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ Premier Costas Simitis pledged on Thursday that his government will meet construction deadlines for all sports venues for the 2004 Olympic Games.

As he toured the site of a once long-delayed weightlifting hall, Simitis said the progress made there displayed the government’s determination.

``The indoor arena in Nikaia is going faster than schedule, a fact that shows our dedication to the timely delivery of all works,″ Simitis said.

Past delays at Nikaia and a number of other venues caused such concern for the International Olympic Committee that it issued an unprecedented warning in 2000 that the Athens Games were in danger.

Athens has since made up for much lost time, but the IOC has warned that deadlines are now so tight there is no margin for any more delays.

``We are going ahead very well. It is not just us that is saying this, but all those who very closely watch the course of our country,″ said Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, head of the Athens 2004 organizing committee.

Simitis said past criticism about delays had been made by people who didn’t have all the facts.

``We may start a little late, but when we start we go ahead steadily and achieve our goal,″ Simitis said. ``The Olympic Games will be perfect Olympic Games.″

Simitis plans to visit several Olympic construction sites during the week, part of an effort to showcase the Socialist government’s achievements ahead of municipal elections on Oct. 13.

The local elections are considered a crucial political indicator and could serve as a litmus test for national polls to be held a few months before the Olympics.

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