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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-08-19

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

August 19, 2004


  • [01] Greek sprinters Kenteris and Thanou withdraw from Games
  • [02] Ancient Olympia used for the first time in modern Olympics history
  • [03] Organizers confident venues will sell-out in upcoming competitions
  • [04] Police comment on Crete anti-doping test incident
  • [05] Athens Mayor Bakoyannis hosts reception in honor of Mayor of London Livingstone
  • [06] Dutch deputy defense minister praises Olympic Games organizing in meeting with Greek counterpart
  • [07] History Channel in US inaugurates 'Greek Week' to coincide with Athens Olympics
  • [08] New York mayor due to depart for Athens on Wednesday to watch Olympic Games, meet IOC officials
  • [09] Athens Airport says 28,602 Olympic Family members arrived since August 12th
  • [10] Greek judo gold medalist takes on the world's media
  • [11] Defense minister visits training vessel of the Portuguese
  • [12] SAE honors winners of "Teach Olympics" program
  • [13] Gov't again pledges corporate-friendly economy
  • [14] Current account deficit narrows in June yr/yr
  • [15] EU-25 inflation eased to 2.3 pct in July, yr/yr
  • [16] Stocks drop in late selling bout
  • [17] Composer Mikis Theodorakis in hospital for emergency operation

  • [01] Greek sprinters Kenteris and Thanou withdraw from Games

    Athens, 19/8/2004 (ANA)

    The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board decided to refer the case of Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for further action, including possible sanctions against both athletes.

    The IOC decision was taken after it had heard a report and the recommendations of a Disciplinary Commission investigating the nature and circumstances of alleged anti-doping rule violations by the two Greek sprinters. The Commission considered that the IOC is no longer the competent authority for issuing potential sanctions related to the Athens Games once both athletes and their coach Christos Tzekos withdrew and surrendered their Olympic accreditation cards.

    The IOC Board also decided to request that the IAAF takes action, including possible sanctions, against Tzekos and all other persons and organizations governed by the rules of the IAAF and who may have contributed to the above-mentioned alleged anti-doping rule violations.

    Furthermore it said it would request the IOC Disciplinary Commission to submit to the IOC Executive Board a report on the wider circumstances, in particular all acts or omissions by any officials or other persons accredited at the Athens Olympic Games, in relation to the information management and chain of command concerning the communication of the Doping Control Notification to Kenteris and Thanou on 12 August 2004.

    The two Greek Olympic medalists failed to appear last Thursday for a drug test and later on that day they had a motorcycle accident, which resulted in a five-day hospital stay for medical treatment.

    Kenteris and Thanou blamed Greek sports officials for the doping evasion furor and parted ways with long-time coach Tzekos, himself under intense scrutiny over the affair and previous run-ins with international anti-doping officials (WADA).

    "We waited 108 years for the Olympic Games to return to Greece. With a sense of responsibility I am withdrawing from the Games. Greek sports officials are responsible for what has happened. I have also decided to end my cooperation with coach Christos Tzekos," Kenteris, the gold medal winner in the 200 meter at the Sidney Games, said.

    He reiterated that he had never been informed or called to take an anti-doping test at the Olympic Village, adding that in the past four years he had tested negative in more than 30 tests.

    A solemn-looking Thanou said she has never taken any banned substance and asked the Greek public to forgive her for not being able to compete in the Games.

    Late Thursday Kenteris' lawyer issued a statement clarifying that his client's complaint about certain sports officials were not directed against Hellenic Amateur Athletic Association (SEGAS) or its members.

    A SEGAS statement said the Association was satisfied with the decision of the two athletes to withdraw from the Games, saying it paves the way to restore the necessary calm among members of the Greek Olympic team.

    Tzekos said he had not done anything wrong and added "I do assume, however, full responsibility."

    The attorney for the two athletes said they have "overwhelming evidence to prove their innocence."

    [02] Ancient Olympia used for the first time in modern Olympics history

    Athens, 19/8/2004 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, IOC President Jacques Rogge, ministers and President of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) George Papandreou were among the spectators at Ancient Olympia, where the Olympic shot-put events were held on Wednesday. The stadium of Ancient Olympia, where the ancient Olympic Games were regularly held, is being used as an Olympic site for the first time since Byzantine Emperor Theodosios prohibited them in 393 AD.

    "It is a great moment for sports worldwide," Papandreou said of the shot-put event being held here on Wednesday.

    Asked to comment on the Olympic Truce, Papandreou said: "the United Nations has unanimously accepted this proposal; great personalities are supporting it and as it spreads worldwide, pressure will increase for wars and conflicts to stop during the Olympic Games."

    [03] Organizers confident venues will sell-out in upcoming competitions

    Athens, 19/8/2004 (ANA)

    Athens organizers on Wednesday again dismissed press criticism that certain Olympic venues are mostly empty -- especially during the morning events -- listing off more than half a dozen events of the previous day they said recorded capacity or near capacity crowds.

    As of Tuesday evening, the total ticket sales total stood at 3,085,936, with revenues near or exceeding the 183-million-euro target initially set by the Athens 2004 organizing committee (ATHOC).

    "I'm confident that as we continue (into the qualifying rounds) you'll see capacity crowds ticket sales are higher than expected," ATHOC official Mihalis Zaharatos said.

    [04] Police comment on Crete anti-doping test incident

    Athens, 19/8/2004 (ANA)

    Officials also commented on local press reports citing an incident in Hania, Crete involving a doping test on a US athlete.

    According to a press release issued by police authorities on the large island of Crete, the female US athlete did indeed provide a urine sample to two employees of a firm identified as International Doping Tests & Management, and its affiliation with USADA. The pair was later detained by police, who subsequently verified their identities and accreditation.

    The name of the athlete was not identified, although the hotel was listed as the Pilot, located just outside the coastal town of Hania, in western Crete.

    According to authorities, the anti-doping sample was taken following the athlete's training session at a nearby stadium.

    Police also contacted Athens 2004 organizing committee (ATHOC) officials, who informed them that the two individuals were authorized to perform anti-doping tests and have also followed prescribed procedures.

    [05] Athens Mayor Bakoyannis hosts reception in honor of Mayor of London Livingstone

    Athens, 19/8/2004 (ANA)

    Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis hosted a reception on Wednesday night in honor of Mayor of London Ken Livingstone who expressed his enthusiasm over the improvement in Athens' public transportation network.

    The reception was held on the renovated roof of the Athens Town Hall.

    Asked about the Parthenon Marbles, Livingstone said that his position was known for their return to the country they belong to and expressed the conviction that "until the next Olympic Games this matter will be solved which has caused problems in the relations between the two countries."

    Livingstone spoke highly about what he termed the excellent hosting of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games "and the beautiful city which is hosting them" and also referred to the solution of the traffic problem in the Greek capital.

    On her part, Bakoyannis said her meeting with the Mayor of London was one of a working and cooperation relationship with the Municipality of London which is a candidate city for the hosting of the 2012 Olympic Games.

    [06] Dutch deputy defense minister praises Olympic Games organizing in meeting with Greek counterpart

    Athens, 19/8/2004 (ANA)

    Dutch Deputy Defense Minister C. Van De Knap praised Greece for the excellent organizing of the Olympic Games in a meeting with his Greek counterpart Vassilis Michaloliakos on Wednesday morning.

    Michaloliakos said that Greece, although being a country with a small population, has proved that it has the ability to organize events of an international caliber.

    Talks between the two deputy ministers focused on the further development of the existing defense agreement between the two countries. Also examined was the possibility of members of the Dutch armed forces training at the Multinational Operations Centre for Supporting Peace in the city of Kilkis in northern Greece.

    Michaloliakos gave his Dutch counterpart a collection of telecards depicting the history of the Olympic Games.

    [07] History Channel in US inaugurates 'Greek Week' to coincide with Athens Olympics

    NEW YORK 19/8/2004 (ANA - P. Panagiotou)

    The US-based TV network "History Channel" has inaugurated its Greek Week theme, timed to coincide with the 28th Olympic Games taking place in Athens.

    The program consists of hour-long dramatized tributes to subjects related to Greece and its culture, particularly ancient Greece.

    The first program in the series concerned the fall of the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations that dominated Greece toward the end of the Bronze Age

    [08] New York mayor due to depart for Athens on Wednesday to watch Olympic Games, meet IOC officials

    NEW YORK 19/8/2004 (ANA - P. Panagiotou)

    New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was due to leave for Athens on Wednesday to watch the Olympic Games and to meet International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials to discuss the American city's candidacy to host the Olympic Games in 2012.

    Bloomberg will also be holding talks with Greek officials for a briefing on details concerning the organizing and hosting of the Olympic Games.

    The mayor of New York had visited Athens two years ago in the framework of an international meeting of mayors.

    Bloomberg will be accompanied by three Greek Americans. Democratic state deputy of New York Mihalis Yiannaris, Republican state senator Dean Skelos and Haida Mihaltsi, director of intergovernmental issues at the office of the mayor of New York.

    [09] Athens Airport says 28,602 Olympic Family members arrived since August 12th

    Athens, 19/8/2004 (ANA)

    The Athens International Airport on Wednesday said it handled efficiently 639 flights on Tuesday, of which scheduled flights accounted for 83.5 percent of total traffic, charter flights for 2.1 percent and general aviation and other types of flights for 14.4 percent.

    AIA, in its daily report on traffic, said a total of 49,296 passengers were welcomed at the airport throughout the day (25,397 arriving and 23,899 departing passengers), of which 662 were Olympic Family members, raising the total number of members to 28,602 since August 12th (arrival of first member of the Olympic Family).

    The airport said it expected to handle 698 flights on Wednesday, comprising 519 scheduled flights, 29 charter flights and 150 general aviation flights. According to the airport's latest information, 719 flights are projected to operate on Thursday.

    Record rise in air traffic on eve of Olympic Games: The Civil Aviation Service has announced that on the eve of the opening ceremony of the 2004 Olympic Games a record number of aircraft used the Athens FIR - 2.462 compared with 1.785 in 2003, registering a 45 % rise.

    Of these, 802 landed at Eleftherios Venizelos international airport, near the Greek capital of Athens, host city of the Games.

    The CAS said all flights took place in absolute safety and without delays. The Service had planned in advance ways to handle increased air traffic and about ten days before the beginning of the Games a special control tower was in operation.

    [10] Greek judo gold medalist takes on the world's media

    Athens, 19/8/2004 (ANA)

    Greece's young gold medalist in judo Ilias Iliadis told a press conference on Wednesday that he would not change his attack tactics in future competitions.

    He also said winning the gold medal does not mark the end of his career.

    On a more light-hearted note, he promised to learn Greek soon.

    "I am very happy for the medal"; the words of a beaming the18-year-old Greek gold medalist in judo, in 18 kg, who appeared before the world's press to talk about his victory. These were the only words he uttered in Greek.

    The young athlete, who came to the country four years ago from Georgia does not speak the language, appeared a bit uneasy with all the publicity but said he fought very hard to get to where he was.

    "My career does not end with the gold medal. I will continue to train since there are always important games," he said.

    Asked about his prediction before Tuesday's victory, he replied "I have tried very hard, my only goal was to get the medal, not the money that comes with it. Had I failed, I would have not forgiven myself."

    On his judo tactics, he said in this sport defense and attack cannot be distinguished and added "I like being on the offensive and I shall continue this way."

    He said he dedicated the gold medal to his loved ones, all those who have supported him and to the whole of Greece.

    [11] Defense minister visits training vessel of the Portuguese

    Athens, 19/8/2004 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos committed himself that the sailing vessel "Evgenios Evgenidis" of the Greek Navy would be excellently reconstructed through public and private funds in statements on Wednesday following a visit in the morning to the training vessel SAGRES II (A-520) of the Portuguese Navy which is anchored at the Flisvos Marina within the framework of the Olympic Games.

    Spiliotopoulos, accompanied by Navy General Staff Chief Vice Admiral Antonios Antoniadis, visited the sailing vessel SAGRES II, to be briefed on the organization and operation of a training vessel equivalent to the under reconstruction of the Navy's sailing vessel "Evgenios Evgenidis".

    [12] SAE honors winners of "Teach Olympics" program

    Athens, 19/8/2004 (ANA)

    The President of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) Andrew Athens hosted a dinner in Athens on Tuesday night for the winners of the program "Teach Olympics", organized by SAE and the Greek Ministry of Culture which was implemented in three cities at all levels of elementary and secondary education.

    A SAE press release said that the three young winners are: 12-year-olds Christina Cruz, from Philadelphia, 12-year-old Joseph Camper from Chicago and 8-year-old Maria Deriabina from Moscow.

    Their prize was a 7-day trip to Greece during the 2004 Olympic Games for the children, their parents and their teachers when they had the chance to watch the opening ceremony, which they described as an unforgettable experience.

    "We never doubted the fact that Greece will organize excellent and safe Olympic Games and this is what we have tried all these years to promote around the world," the SAE president said, adding that all Hellenes feel proud that Greece has achieved this.

    The program gave the chance to more than one million students to learn about the meaning of the Olympic Games and the principles of Greek culture.

    [13] Gov't again pledges corporate-friendly economy

    Athens, 19/8/2004 (ANA)

    Deputy Finance Minister Christos Folias on Wednesday repeated the government's pledge of creating an economic environment conducive to doing business.

    Among moves the government was taking were reducing red tape, boosting transparency, creating an equitable and functional tax system, and passing a new development law, Folias told a meeting of the Athens Business Club 2004, set up to spur financial links during the 2004 Olympics.

    In addition, he promised that changes would be made in public administration to improve handling of corporate issues; and the state's Hellenic Investment Centre would be upgraded.

    Folias urged investors abroad to plough funds into Greece due to its new infrastructure and high rates of growth, with tourism and heavy industry both offering potential for returns.

    [14] Current account deficit narrows in June yr/yr

    Athens, 19/8/2004 (ANA)

    The current account deficit decreased slightly year-on-year in June 2004, underpinned by a widening of the services surplus and narrowing of the income account deficit, as the trade deficit grew and transfers surplus declined, the central bank said on Wednesday.

    Widening of the trade deficit is mainly due to an increase in the non-oil trade deficit, while the net oil import bill showed a small rise. The services surplus improved as a result of a rise in net transport receipts, mainly from shipping, with narrowing of the income account deficit stemming from lower interest payments on Greek government bonds, the Bank of Greece said in a monthly report.

    The narrowing of the transfers surplus in June reflects the fact that net EU transfers to general government were negative, the report said.

    In the first half of 2004, the current account deficit narrowed by 1.047 billion euros, or 18 percent, over the same period of 2003 to total 4.744 billion euros, reflecting a rise in the services surplus and an increase in the transfers surplus, which together more than offset a widening of the trade deficit, while the income account deficit remained virtually unchanged.

    Trade deficit widens: The trade deficit grew by 862 million euros against the same period of 2003, reflecting a 1.636 billion euro increase in the non-oil import bill, which more than offset both a 655 million euro rise in non-oil export receipts and a 119 million euro decrease in the net oil import bill. The trade deficit in the first half of 2004 totalled 12.168 billion euros, up 7.6 percent.

    The services surplus grew by 1.682 billion euros owing to a major rise of 1.464 billion euros in net transport receipts, mainly in shipping, and to a lesser extent an increase in net travel receipts and drop in net payments for other services, the central bank said.

    Growth of 212 million euros of the transfers surplus in the first half of 2004 is accounted for by a 176 million euro increase in net EU transfers to general government, largely stemming from February inflows, according to the report.

    Net outflow under direct investment: In June 2004, a small net outflow was observed under direct investment. Under portfolio investment, a net outflow of 104 million euros mainly reflects the fact that residents' purchases of bonds issued by non-residents exceeded non-residents' purchases of Greek bonds and shares.

    Under other investments, a net inflow of 772 million euros reflects the fact that the increase in the deposits and repos abroad of residents (credit institutions) was lower than a rise in non-residents' deposits and repos in Greece, combined with the inflow of funds for the securitization of housing loans amounting to 750 million euros and with the granting of loans to residents, the central bank said.

    In January-June 2004, a net inflow of 346 million euros was observed under direct investment, mainly due to the acquisition of Panafon S.A. by Vodafone in January and acquisition of the General Bank of Greece by Societe Generale in March. Over the same period, a substantial net inflow of 5.571 billion euros was recorded under portfolio investment, mainly reflecting non-residents' purchases of Greek government bonds, which more than offset residents' outflows to foreign bonds.

    A net outflow of 1.838 billion euros under other investment is largely associated with residents' (mainly credit institutions') sizeable outflows to deposits and repos abroad and, to a lesser extent, outflows for the repayment of loans granted by non-residents, which more than offset non-residents' inflows to deposits and repos, the report said

    Reserves at 3.3 bln euros: At end-June 2004, Greece's reserve assets came to 3.3 billion euros. In the first months of 2003, the Bank of Greece diversified its portfolio, reducing non-euro area currency holdings, which are included in reserve assets, and increasing its higher-yield or euro-denominated assets, mainly bonds issued by euro area member states, which are not included in reserve assets. Due to a lesser need to maintain high foreign currency reserves, returns on investment were attained through this diversification, the Bank of Greece said.

    [15] EU-25 inflation eased to 2.3 pct in July, yr/yr

    Athens, 19/8/2004 (ANA)

    Greek annual inflation rose to 3.1 percent in July from 3.0 percent in June, Eurostat said on Wednesday.

    The EU executive's statistics agency, in its monthly report on EU inflation, said that Slovakia (8.3 pct), Hungary (7.25 pct) and Latvia (6.7 pct) recorded the highest inflation rates in the EU-25, while Finland (0.2 pct), Denmark (1.1 pct), Holland and Sweden (1.2 pct each) recorded the lowest inflation rates in July.

    In the Eurozone, annual inflation fell to 2.3 percent in July from 2.4 percent in June, but was up from 1.9 percent in July 2003. Inflation in the EU-25 fell also to 2.3 pct in July from 2.4 pct in June, but it was up from 1.8 pct in July last year.

    Annual inflation rose in 11 member-states, it fell in another 11 and was unchanged in three. The lowest average inflation rates for the last 12 months were recorded in Lithuania (-0.4 pct), Finland (0.6 pct) and Denmark (1.1 pct), while the highest in Slovakia (8.6 pct), Hungary (6.3 pct) and Latvia (4.5 pct).

    [16] Stocks drop in late selling bout

    Athens, 19/8/2004 (ANA)

    Stocks finished lower with light selling after the first half hour of trade gaining momentum to spread across the board towards the end of the session, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 2,255.69 points, showing a decline of 0.80 percent. Turnover was 79.1 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.85 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.24 percent lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.08 percent down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 236 to 58 with 55 remaining unchanged.

    [17] Composer Mikis Theodorakis in hospital for emergency operation

    Athens, 19/8/2004 (ANA)

    Composer Mikis Theodorakis, whose 'Zorba the Greek' theme music has become the signature tune of the 28th Olympic Games in Athens that is played at the end of every final, has been admitted to hospital and undergone an emergency operation to remove his gall bladder.

    Theodorakis was admitted to 'Evangelismos' hospital in Athens late on Tuesday night with acute colic which, according to a medical bulletin, had also affected his pancreas.

    The course of drugs the composer was taking was immediately cut short and he was taken in for the operation early on Wednesday morning, using laparoscopic surgery.

    Theodorakis is now recuperating in the hospital's Increased Care Unit.

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