19 August, 2003
A day after Athens 2004 organizers (ATHOC) confidently proclaimed the successful conclusion of three Olympic “test events” over the weekend, Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Monday appeared satisfied over progress with Olympic preparations, stressing that Greece will be ready for the Games.
Accompanied by Athens 2004 Organizing Committee President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and a pair of ministers whose portfolios include several important 2004-related projects -- Culture Minister Eleftherios Venizelos and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou -- the premier toured the Agios Kosmas Olympic Sailing Centre (off the coast where the sailing competition will be held) as well as the Faliron Coastal Zone Olympic Complex, which includes several under-construction venues that will host beach volleyball, the handball preliminaries and Taekwondo.
''The projects are on schedule and they will be ready on time. Greece will be ready and safe during the Olympic Games”, the premier told reporters following his tour.
He also emphasized the positive and tangible impact of both projects on the adjacent coastal areas – long left unexploited -- as well as on the quality of life for Athens residents.
Referring to the “test events” that began earlier in the month at the Schinias Rowing and Canoeing Centre, and which were plagued by high winds for the first two days of the junior rowing world championships, Simitis said the purpose of the trials was to identify flaws and make corrections.
''We are not under the illusion that everything is perfect, on the contrary. But this is exactly why we want to proceed according to plan and with decisiveness. We want everyone involved to act responsibly. We are not going to allow anyone to behave irresponsibly,” he stressed.
ATHOC: On her part, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said the purpose of the Olympic “test events” was to test venues, systems, procedures and the staff, so that everything can be up and working during the actual Olympic Games.
''We are now correcting problems that arise and we are monitoring progress with the events’ organization. We are going to be ready next year, there is no doubt about that'', she stressed.
The ATHOC chief also reiterated that organizers would make their assessments after the completion of the test events.
Four competitions were completed without any glitches last week at Olympic venues in and around Athens – archery, canoe/kayak, equestrian events and cycling.
Venizelos: Asked to comment on recent foreign press articles concerning the all-important security dimension at the upcoming Games, Venizelos merely cited what he called “ulterior motives”.
''I am afraid that all these (reports) are often associated with very specific, open issues regarding commissions related to the procurement of supplies, equipment and other contracts related to security'', he said, adding:
''Greece is a European country, with a European awareness of the issue of international terrorism, while participating in all international organizations and mechanisms for security in the world.''
''We have the readiness and ability to confront all issues in collaboration with other countries and their services. Greece invests a large amount of money on security issues. We do not want any danger-mongering from anyone, and we do not want any indirect pressure from anyone,” he concluded.
Source: Athens News Agency