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29 June, 2002
The cutbacks in planned infrastructure for the Athens Olympics in 2004 had been approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and had been made after careful consideration in order to benefit Greece and the budget for the Games, the government stressed on Friday.
Dimitris Gerou, who was filling in for Christos Protopapas as government spokesman, noted that the IOC had praised Greece on its progress in Olympics projects and pointed to a statement by IOC Coordinating Committee head Dennis Oswald, who said the IOC did not want ''white elephants'' that would be left behind once the Games were over.
As an example, the spokesman referred to a decision to build just one hockey pitch for the Olympics instead of the two that the International Hockey Federation had originally asked for. It was later decided that one pitch would be sufficient to cover the needs of the Games, leading to a saving of several million euros.
''The government assesses projects on the basis of their use during and after the Olympic Games, and always with the agreement of the IOC,'' Gerou added.
Regarding the construction of a park at Hellenikon, on the site once occupied by the old Athens airport, Gerou said that this would go ahead according to the statements made by Prime Minister Costas Simitis in January 2001 and that it would be the largest park in Europe.
Regarding criticism about delays in the project, he said these were due to legal complications that had now been overcome and that work would start at the end of August.
Source: Athens News Agency