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|August 24, 2000||
Greece sits for 2004 Olympics testDina Kyriakidou in Athens
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Thursday began evaluating Greece's plans for the 2004 Athens Olympics after handing the country a serious warning over delays in key sectors earlier this year.
Greek organisers were due to present visiting IOC Coordinating Commission President Jacques Rogge with progress reports on areas ranging from the Olympic village to hotel accomodation.
In May, Rogge gave Greece 100 days to get preparations back on track. IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch had warned Greece in April that the Games could be endangered if the country failed to improve its organisation drastically.
"We are optimistic that with our work during this time...things should go well with the IOC's examination," government spokesman Telemachos Hytiris told reporters on Wednesday. "Of course, Mr. Rogge has the last word."
Sources in the Athens organising committee (ATHOC) said the main IOC concerns were being addressed and were expecting Rogge to approve the progress made.
"Major steps have been taken and they must continue, there is no other choice," an official said.
A much-delayed deal with Athens hoteliers to book 25,000 rooms needed by the IOC during the Games was signed, the Olympic village construction was put on track and a tender for broadcasting rights was expected to be completed by the end of the year.
"The IOC was also very concerned with the fact the memorandums of cooperation between ATHOC and concerned ministries had not been signed," the official said. "In typical Greek fashion, most were signed this week."
Rogge's team will meet with eight working groups on Thursday and Friday before issuing his verdict at a news conference.
The IOC warnings mobilised Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who took personal charge of overseeing progress, ending two years of buraucratic wrangles, infighting and government indifference.
He also changed the head of ATHOC, giving the job to Gianna Angelopoulos, largely credited with winning the bid to host the Games and seen as popular with IOC members.
She has refused to comment on progress since taking office and imposed a media blackout on ATHOC until after Rogge's visit.
"Her taking over pleased the IOC and put an end to their public criticism but it was Simitis taking over the effort that got things going," the official said.
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