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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-08-10

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

August 10, 2004


  • [01] Prime Minister Karamanlis says 'Olympic Games are a national issue'
  • [02] Greek President welcomes delegates to 116th IOC general assembly
  • [03] IOC President expects excellent Games in Athens
  • [04] Gov't underlines need to respect traffic rules in Olympic lanes
  • [05] Main opposition PASOK leader to attend Olympics opening ceremony
  • [06] Gov't says Belarus sports minister will not be allowed into country
  • [07] Gov't spokesman rejects main opposition criticism over Olympic projects
  • [08] Gov't denies that former minister's stint as Olympic Torch-bearer was deliberately axed by state TV
  • [09] Gov't spokesman says PM's heavy schedule prevents him inaugurating Rio-Antirrio bridge
  • [10] Greek gov't says farm sector policy priority
  • [11] Greece, Russia agree to accelerate procedures for Burgas-Alexandroupoli pipeline
  • [12] Airport officials say more than 15,000 Olympic Family members have arrived in Greece so far; arrivals continuing
  • [13] Stocks nose up in late rebound
  • [14] IOC heaps words of praise on Olympic Village
  • [15] Swatch raises $200,000 for charity; Rogge to present cheque to Mouscouri
  • [16] Patra football tournament tickets selling out
  • [17] Athens, golf federation honor last remaining member of '32 Greek Olympic team, oldest living USC Olympian
  • [18] Athens Municipality announces new actions
  • [19] Injured Judo athlete's partner attempts suicide
  • [20] Traffic restrictions for the opening ceremony
  • [21] Deputy culture minister inaugurates new permanent exhibition at Keramikos Museum
  • [22] Actor Dimitris Papamihail to be buried on Tuesday
  • [23] Gov't bans heavy-duty hydrofluoric acid cleansers for domestic use
  • [24] Illegal immigrants intercepted on Samos
  • [25] Over 30,000 Cypriots in Athens for Olympic Games, COC President says

  • [01] Prime Minister Karamanlis says 'Olympic Games are a national issue'

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in a televised message just before 8 p.m. on Monday said that "the Olympic Games are a national issue, the success of which will judge the image of Greece all over the world."

    Karamanlis thanked all those who contributed "to this enormous effort, such as the artists, creators and workers." The prime minister stressed that "without exception, all the political parties and the country's governments contributed to this effort."

    These works, he said, were done "through the sacrifices of the people" whom he thanked.

    He further underlined the contribution of the International Olympic Committee, the Athens 2004 Olympic Organizing Committee as well as the politicians, technocrats and volunteers.

    "The success will belong to all Greeks and will be a victory for Greece which sets high standards for efforts and progress, which unites its forces, which gives its best self, with certainty, optimism and effectiveness," Karamanlis said.

    The prime minister said that "the challenge of the Games is collective and individual given that for a few days we will have to change our habits and host visitors from all over the world who are coming to feel the aura of the country where the Games were born and revived."

    "We are in the final stretch of this enormous effort from which we will emerge stronger and more optimistic," he added.

    Karamanlis reminded that during the days of the Olympic Games, "Greece will live at a different pace" and called on all Greeks "to welcome the thousands of tourists who will come to experience Greek culture and Greek hospitality."

    Referring to security measures, Karamanlis stressed that "with the contribution of our friends and allied countries, we have done everything humanly possible for all the athletes, missions and visitors to be safe," adding that "Greece is ready for successful Games with conditions of utmost security."

    Regarding the post-Olympic period, Karamanlis said that "the aim is to convert the excess value of the Games to added value for the Greek economy, the development of the country, the prosperity of the entire Greek society for today and the next generations."

    He also called on the citizens to fill the stadiums "for every Greek to have a memory of the celebration and his own presence in the historic uniqueness." He stressed that "the time has come for us to feel proud of Greece, of Greece which insists, struggles and wins, Greece which unites and inspires us.'' He added that "after the Games we will all be more experienced, stronger, more certain of our potential and Greece will have greater international projection, better infrastructures, better knowledge, it will be a more optimistic country."

    Karamanlis said that "we want the 2004 Games to send to the international community a message of bringing peoples and nations together."

    Concluding, the prime minister said: "Let us all enjoy the great moment and reward the efforts of the athletes, sending to all corners of the world the image of modern Greece."

    [02] Greek President welcomes delegates to 116th IOC general assembly

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos extended a warm welcome to delegates of the 116th International Olympic Committee (IOC) assembly, saying Greece wants everyone to believe that it has undertaken the hosting of the Olympic Games with love and dedication and in full recognition of the seriousness of such an endeavor.

    Addressing on Monday the opening session, he said Greece was much honored to have been chosen to host the 2004 Games. The country also felt a huge burden of responsibility, and consequently, has done all it could to meet its responsibilities.

    "Greeks, no matter where they are, feel that the Olympic Games are a part of their ancient and modern history. We feel very proud to be staging the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad, and I welcome you to this meeting most sincerely," Stephanopoulos told delegates, who gathered at the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron).

    The Greek president said he was personally hurt by some reports predicting the Games' failure, calling on IOC members to make their assessments at the conclusion of the Games.

    "Greece is not claiming anything at all in return for everything it has offered in the past to the Olympic ideals, but we do seek to convince everyone that it has undertaken to stage the Games with all its love and dedication to the institution, and in full knowledge of the gravity of this attempt," he said.

    He noted that the modern Olympic Games differ immensely from those of antiquity, while saying that the IOC is often concerned with existing problems, which as he pointed out, often tarnish the noble ideal of competition and defame sports.

    "These kinds of problems have increased to such a degree that it would be extremely difficult to eradicate them completely. I am not claiming that you should give up the fight, but I believe that any negative elements our era attach to the Games should be counter-balanced with the positive offer of cultural events that accompany the Olympics," he said.

    Referring to expenditures for the 2004 Olympic Games, he said costs have risen, although works of art have been created and there were increased costs for security concerns.

    Concluding, he wished everyone a pleasant time in Greece, every success to the conference, while adding: "I wish that the Olympic Games are always successful, safe and brilliant."

    Athens 2004 President speaks at 116th IOC session: "Today the Olympic Movement returns to its historic cradle," Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said during her speech at the 116th IOC session held at the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron) on Monday.

    "For athletes, the Games represent a life mission - a decade or more of training, discipline and sacrifices. The athletes have promised to give their best and we will do exactly the same," she said. Angelopoulos-Daskalaki repeated the promise she had made seven years ago (as president of the Greek bid committee): "If you kick, hit, catch or throw a ball; if you ride a horse or a bicycle; if you sail or shoot, if you row or fence, if you hold a racket or lift weights; if you aim with an arrow or shoot with a gun; if you wrestle or dive; if you aspire to be the first woman to cross the finish line or the man with the strongest willpower...we will do the best we can so that you can achieve the best you can."

    As for Olympic preparation and the works that have been completed, the Athens 2004 president stressed that "Greece wants to show that its ancient legacy finds expression in the modern face of present-day Athens. Visitors who have come from all over the world, will see that we Greeks honor our past by excelling in the present. People will be surprised when they see our new facilities - beautiful aesthetically, fantastic in design and as we've been saying all these years - ideal for the Games."

    [03] IOC President expects excellent Games in Athens

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    Days before the opening of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge expressed confidence on Monday that Greece will produce "excellent Games", one that will mark their return to their roots.

    In a speech at the opening ceremony of the 116th IOC general assembly, Rogge said that "by awarding the Games to Athens, the IOC wished to return them to their roots and honor their founding land," while he expressed gratitude to the organizers and Greek authorities for their efforts and support.

    "We have confidence in our Greek friends to organize excellent Games, which will mark the return to their roots, and which have already left a remarkable urban legacy that will benefit future generations," he said.

    Referring to the "dangers we need to combat," Rogge said "these dangers are threats to security, gigantism, doping and ethical violations," and called upon "all the constituents of the Olympic Movement to cooperate fully and follow totally the instructions of the Greek government."

    Rogge said "we can deal with the dangers, which threaten it, and above all reinforce its values.

    "Sport will remain this great movement serving humanity, based on the values of universality, tolerance and ethics, and a source of dreams to young people. The IOC's role is to pass on this dream to future generations," he concluded.

    [04] Gov't underlines need to respect traffic rules in Olympic lanes

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Monday again stressed that normal traffic rules had to apply in Olympic lanes, adding that the privileges accorded to those using Olympic lanes should not be abused.

    According to the public order ministry, there had been 556 traffic violations between the start of August and Sunday, of which 43 concerned exceeding the speed limit in Olympic lanes by 28 accredited vehicles and 15 non-accredited vehicles.

    [05] Main opposition PASOK leader to attend Olympics opening ceremony

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK leader will be attend the opening ceremony for the Athens Olympics on Friday, according to an announcement issued by the party on Monday.

    It said that Papandreou will first spend three days on the island of Spetses in the Saronic Gulf, recuperating from a bout of pneumonia that caused him to be admitted into hospital the week before.

    [06] Gov't says Belarus sports minister will not be allowed into country

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    The government reiterated on Monday that Belarus sports minister Yuri Sivakov will not be allowed into Greece, with the government spokesman characteristically noting that "he will not enter our country".

    Government spokesman Thodoris Roussopoulos made the statement in reply to questions at his daily press briefing, when asked to comment on Sivakov's statements that his 2004 Olympics accreditation as Belarus' IOC delegate gives him the right to enter the country and attend the Games.

    "What we have said stands, the Greek state will do what it must," Roussopoulos said.

    The European Union requested Athens bar Sivakov because of alleged links to the disappearance of four opposition figures when he was interior minister.

    [07] Gov't spokesman rejects main opposition criticism over Olympic projects

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    "The present government takes a different view of Olympic works that were built by several governments," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Monday, in response to complaints by main opposition PASOK that the present administration was claiming for its own the work that had been done under previous PASOK governments.

    "We believe these works belong to the Greek people, who have paid for them," Roussopoulos added.

    [08] Gov't denies that former minister's stint as Olympic Torch-bearer was deliberately axed by state TV

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Monday strongly rejected implications that the failure to broadcast scenes of former PASOK secretary Costas Laliotis carrying the Olympic Torch over the new Rio-Antirrio bridge had been deliberate in any way, while referring reporters to the announcement made by the state television channel ERT on this issue.

    As environment, town planning and public works minister under a previous PASOK government, Laliotis had been instrumental to the start of work on the bridge, probably the largest, most complex and ambitious public works project ever undertaken in Greece.

    [09] Gov't spokesman says PM's heavy schedule prevents him inaugurating Rio-Antirrio bridge

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Monday stressed that a heavy schedule on the eve of the Olympics was the only reason why Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis would not be inaugurating the Rio-Antirrio bridge.

    Commenting on reports that Karamanlis was deliberately avoiding the inauguration, Roussopoulos underlined that "there is no reason that would make the premier not want to walk over one of the most important public works projects in Greece".

    [10] Greek gov't says farm sector policy priority

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    Agricultural Deputy Minister Alexandros Kontos on Monday said that a government's vision to reform Greek farm sector through a dynamic and viable farming, organized on a business base, has already begun and was gradually turning into reality.

    Speaking to a crowd of people in Rizia, in the prefecture of Evros, during the annual rice fair celebrated in the region, the Greek minister stressed that a new agreement for the reform of a Common Agriculture Policy was the government's most significant action to the benefit of Greek farmers, since Greece secured the continuation of EU subsidies by 2013 for its most important farm products.

    "Our aim is not to lose one euro for our farmers," Kontos said, adding that the government has already implemented measures to support farmers, such as an extension to offer cheap farm diesel, freezing all auctions by the Agricultural Bank of Greece and agreeing to a new law on penalty rates.

    The government is focusing on the development of green farming. Our target is for green farming to cover two percent of total agricultural production by 2007 from 0.7 percent currently.

    The Greek minister said that a European Union proposal on sugar production was "unacceptable" and pledged that the government would give a hard battle to defend sugar farmers' incomes.

    [11] Greece, Russia agree to accelerate procedures for Burgas-Alexandroupoli pipeline

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    Greek Development Deputy Minister George Salagoudis met with Russian Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko in Moscow to discuss ways to promote a project for the construction and operation of an oil pipeline from Burgas in Bulgaria to Alexandroupoli in Greece.

    During the 1-1/2 hour meeting, the two sides acknowledged a stalemate in the project during the last two years and agreed to the need to accelerate procedures to complete the oil pipeline.

    Greece and Russia agreed to immediately start the reactivation of a three-part working commission (Greece-Bulgaria-Russia) that would held its first meeting in one month. The commission will prepare the ground for the signing of a political agreement and find ways to support all three governments in creating a joint company to build and operate the pipeline.

    [12] Airport officials say more than 15,000 Olympic Family members have arrived in Greece so far; arrivals continuing

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    Officials at the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport on Monday said that 15,752 members of the Olympic Family have arrived in Greece so far through the airport -- the largest in the country -- with the daily arrival rate now standing at approximately 3,500 per day.

    Athens' new airport handled 617 flights on Sunday and expects a further 653 on Monday and 678 on Tuesday, carrying more than 7,000 Olympic Family members.

    [13] Stocks nose up in late rebound

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    Stocks finished higher with a downward trend reversing towards the end of the session, led by a surge in blue chip Alpha Bank that took the rest of the market upward, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 2,297.21 points, showing a rise of 0.28 percent. Turnover was 68.2 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.39 percent up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.48 per cent higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.52 per cent up.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 155 to 115 with 76 remaining unchanged.

    [14] IOC heaps words of praise on Olympic Village

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge, former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch and IOC Coordination Commission Chairman Denis Oswald received a tour of the Olympic Village - where approximately 16,000 athletes competing in the Athens Games will be staying - and left with the best impressions.

    "It's incredible. Of the 16 Olympic Games I've attended, it is the best," Rogge said. Samaranch's reaction echoed Rogge's words: "I am impressed. It is the best Olympic Village I've seen in my life."

    Oswald agreed: "I've been to many Olympic Villages since 1968. I've stayed at villages as an athlete and later as a guest in the capacity of IOC member. This is tops."

    General Director of the Village Sotiris Vaos and Olympic Village Mayor Yiannis Manos greeted Rogge. Before the tour began Rogge had breakfast with the IOC's Athletes Committee President Sergey Bubka. "It's an amazing Olympic Village; one of the best I've seen. The athletes are completely satisfied and that's important. Greece with its unique hospitality offers something really impressive to the Olympic Games," Bubka said.

    Rogge also visited the Village's medical centre and recreational areas for the athletes before heading off for the Olympic Stadium.

    [15] Swatch raises $200,000 for charity; Rogge to present cheque to Mouscouri

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge on Tuesday afternoon will present cheque for 200,000 dollars to Nana Mouscouri, the noted singer and a current UNICEF goodwill ambassador, to be used for various charitable efforts.

    The presentation will take place at the Swatch Ionic Centre in the Plaka district of downtown Athens.

    The official guest at the event, organized by Swatch -- the exclusive timer of the 2004 Olympic Games -- in cooperation with the Athens municipality, is American Olympic legend Carl Lewis.

    Two years ago, Swatch asked 100 well-known artists to create objects used by athletes during past Olympic Games. The items, many of which are three-dimensional, were auctioned off around the globe.

    The artworks can be seen in the outdoor areas of the Swatch Ionic Centre in Plaka, at the foot of the Acropolis, clad in the Olympic colors.

    [16] Patra football tournament tickets selling out

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    Tickets for the Patra football tournament are selling out rapidly, as the excitement of the Athens 2004 Olympic Summer Games hits the city, with the Olympic Flame passing over the Rio Antirrio Bridge and various other festivities.

    Athens 2004 competition manager Giorgos Spyroulias told the press on Monday "we are at the final turn...we are ready to welcome great names of football."

    City manager Nasos Nasiopoulos noted the significance of the football matches and called on all fans in Patra to purchase tickets while they last.

    [17] Athens, golf federation honor last remaining member of '32 Greek Olympic team, oldest living USC Olympian

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    Pete Clentzos, Greece's only remaining member of its 1932 team and the oldest living University of Southern California Olympian, was honored by the city of Athens on Monday as well as by the Hellenic Golf Federation.

    The distinguished Greek-American pole vaulter of the 1930s and retired LA school administrator was seventh at the Los Angeles Games and the pole vault champion of the 1935 Balkan Games in Istanbul.

    Clentzos, 95 years young and an avid golfer for more than five decades, was honored in the afternoon at the Athens Golf Club.

    One of the participants at the afternoon event, US ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller, called Clentzos "a real legend".

    "He was a pole vaulter at the 1932 Olympic Games, that's 72 years ago, well before most of us were born ... I think Mr. Clentzos' presence here reminds us of the spirit of what the Olympics are all about: sportsmanship and courage; it's about how people around the world can focus on a common goal of excellence, teamwork and cooperation ..." Miller said, adding that all the American team members he's talked to have pronounced the Olympic facilities as "super".

    "As you all know, we're going to have former president Bush and a lot of his family here with us, and I think that gives you some idea of how confident we are that these will be excellent Games ... there is an air of excitement, not only in Greece, but around the world, and especially in the United States," Miller said.

    [18] Athens Municipality announces new actions

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni announced three new actions at a press conference on Monday, concerning the issuing of a cultural and historical guide of the capital, the new Athens gate on the Internet, and a multilingual radio station.

    The cultural and historical guide was compiled in cooperation with the Foundation of the Hellenic World and provides an overview of Athens in English, French, German and Spanish. The guide has also been issued in a child-friendly version.

    Regarding the Internet gate, at, Bakoyianni said it is separated into subcategories, in which users can find information about services, facilities, business and answers to FAQs.

    The radio station will broadcast 24-hour programs on 104,4 FM in various languages, providing visitors, tourists and foreigners living in Athens with a comprehensive picture of all goings-on in the city.

    [19] Injured Judo athlete's partner attempts suicide

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    The case of judo athlete Eleni Ioannou, a member of the Greek Olympic Team who was injured when she plunged three stories into the street from an apartment, took a new tragic turn on Monday, when her partner Giorgos Chrysostomides tried to commit suicide.

    Chrysostomides, a kick-boxer, was taken to Evangelismos hospital shortly after noon on Monday, after jumping from the same third-floor flat.

    According to unconfirmed local press reports, Chrysostomides was reportedly feeling guilty about his companion's injury. The latter sustained multiple fractures on Friday and is currently in a comatose condition at the same hospital.

    [20] Traffic restrictions for the opening ceremony

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    The Athens 2004 Organizing Committee on Monday announced special traffic restrictions that will be effective for Friday, August 13 from 3 p.m. until 2 a.m. Saturday morning on occasion of the Olympic Games opening ceremony.

    According to the restrictions, Vas. Sofias Avenue from the Hilton Hotel until the Ambelokipi intersection (at Alexandras Ave.), Kifissias Ave. from Ambelokipi until Attiki Odos and Kimis Ave. from Attiki Odos until Tralleon St. will be closed for private cars and motorcycles in both directions. Only accredited vehicles and public transport vehicles will be allowed to use the above three avenues.

    Ticket holders for the opening ceremony will have to use public transport to reach the Olympic Stadium. Specifically, if traveling by electric train (ISAP) passengers should get off at the Irini Station (if traveling northbound) or Neratziotissa (if traveling southbound). If traveling by suburban rail, the stop is Neratziotissa, while Olympic buses X11, X14 and X15 serve the Olympic Stadium as well.

    Because of the restrictions on Kifissias and Kimis Aves. Exits 10 and 11 of the Attiki Odos will be closed. Those traveling from the northern suburbs to the city centre are advised to use the western ring road of Imittou Ave./Katechaki Ave.

    [21] Deputy culture minister inaugurates new permanent exhibition at Keramikos Museum

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis inaugurated the new permanent exhibition at the Keramikos Museum on Monday night.

    The museum had remained closed for over a year and had been renovated and modernized in the framework of the program to unite archaeological sites in Athens and promote the archaeological site at Keramikos in particular.

    Speaking during the inauguration ceremony, Tatoulis said the museum "is one of the most important museums in the country, which is being delivered to the world, while the permanent exhibition gives a new dimension to the aims of promoting and protecting our cultural heritage."

    He added that with the opening of the Keramikos Museum "another big wager we had set for ourselves finds us emerging as the winners."

    The museum displays 534 sculptures and urns discovered during excavations carried out at the archaeological site of Keramikos which was the official cemetery of ancient Athens.

    [22] Actor Dimitris Papamihail to be buried on Tuesday

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    The funeral for Greek film actor Dimitris Papamihail, who died on Sunday aged 70, will be held on Tuesday afternoon at 16:00 at the Athens 1st cemetery. The body will be on display from 10:00 onwards for the public to pay their last respects.

    [23] Gov't bans heavy-duty hydrofluoric acid cleansers for domestic use

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    A joint decision of the development and finance ministries will ban the sale of cleansers containing more than 1 per cent hydrofluoric acid (CAS7664-39-3) for products marketed for domestic use from Tuesday.

    It said they could be sold and clearly marked for professional use and that existing products on the market should immediately be withdrawn.

    [24] Illegal immigrants intercepted on Samos

    Athens, 10/8/2004 (ANA)

    Fourteen illegal immigrants were intercepted by authorities on the Aegean island Samos on Monday after they crossed the Mykale straits into Greece using a wooden boat.

    All 14 are from the Ivory Coast and are now being held at Samos police headquarters, while the Turkish immigrant-smuggler that brought them to the island has escaped arrest. Police said that they are all in good health.

    According to their testimony, there are thousands of immigrants on the coast of Turkey that are desperately trying to get to the Greek islands by any means available. So far, there are 165 illegal immigrants currently being detained at the island's reception centre for illegals.

    [25] Over 30,000 Cypriots in Athens for Olympic Games, COC President says

    NICOSIA 10/8/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus Olympic Committee President Kikis Lazarides, who is also member of the International Olympic Committee, has said the interest of Cypriots for this month's Olympic Games in Athens has surpassed all expectations.

    In an interview with CNA Lazarides, who traveled to Athens Saturday, said that more than 30,000 Cypriots will be in Athens during the Olympic Games.

    Among them will be Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and members of the cabinet.

    Papadopoulos will be present at the opening and the closing ceremony of the Games and will mainly watch field and track events.

    Lazarides expressed his satisfaction with the interest of the Cypriots in the Olympic Games and said that from the very beginning they contributed to this common effort.

    ''What happens is amazing. Thousands of people from Cyprus plan to go to Athens for the Games,'' Lazarides said.

    He noted that every day he receives dozens of calls from people who want tickets for the Games. Hundreds of Cypriots will work in Athens as volunteers.

    ''We are trying to help them in every way and all indications lead to the conclusion that thousands of our compatriots will be in Athens.

    Even though it is difficult to determine the exact number of Cypriots that will watch the Games I estimate that they will be more than 30,000,'' he said.

    Lazarides described as particularly positive the fact that Cypriots want to watch both popular and not particularly known to Cyprus sports.

    He noted that from the very beginning Cyprus' people have considered the Athens Olympic Games as their own because of the very close bonds between Greece and Cyprus.

    The IOC member expressed the view that successful Olympic Games in Greece could have positive repercussions on Cyprus and its political problem.

    The COC President said President Papadopoulos will stand by the Cyprus delegation and will attend the opening ceremony on August 13.

    On August 25, President Papadopoulos will visit the Olympic Village and will have lunch with all members of the Cyprus delegation.

    ''The President will watch many happenings and sport activities. He especially likes field and track events and that is why he preferred to be in Athens during the period when these events will take place, but he also plans to watch other events such as football matches and events with Cyprus participation,'' he added.

    Foreign Minister George Iacovou, Defense Minister Kyriakos Mavronicolas, Communications and Works Minister Haris Thrasou and Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides will be among the Cypriot officials who will watch the Games.

    As to the performance of Cypriot athletes Lazarides appears to be optimistic.

    ''We are talking about the most important athletic event. And its level is very high. To be able to participate in the Games is an achievement alone,'' he added.

    Cyprus will be represented in the Athens Olympic Games, beginning this Friday, with 19 athletes and with five athletes in the Paralympics to be held next month in the Greek capital.

    Lazarides said that ''particularly in the shooting (skeet), field and track and sailing events we have indications that our athletes will be successful.''

    While in Athens, Lazarides will attend the Annual Conference of the International Olympic Committee, of which he has been a member since 2002.

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