|Tuesday, 12 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-08-20
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>August 20, 2004
 Greece assured of third gold medal in sailing women's 470 class
Athens, 20/8/2004 (ANA)Greece's Sofia Bekatorou and Aimilia Tsoulfa won the gold medal in the Women's 470 on Thursday with a race to spare. With just one race left to be sailed on Saturday, the Greek crew has managed to open up an unassailable lead by finishing first and second in Thursday's races. They lead the overall rankings by 34 points to the second-ranked crew.
After the win in the first race, the Greek crew only needed to finish in the top 17 to secure the gold medal, but they did not relax and finished second behind Katie McDowell and Isabelle Kinsolving from the USA.
"This is the best feeling, it's something totally new for us. We fought really hard for this result. We had dreamt about it and now we're happy because the result is proof of our teamwork," Sofia Bekatorou said on Thursday after the race.
"Winning the gold medal was not easy," Bekatorou explains, even though the score may make it seem otherwise. "Weather conditions gave us a hard time and we had to take risks in order to win. We took the risks at the right time," she said.
Tsoulfa described the winning moment "as unique" and said "we have to celebrate it with all Greeks."
"We would like to thank all those who have worked with us, our trainer Elias Mylonas, the men's 470 crew Andreas Kosmatopoulos and Kostas Trigonis, American Morgan Riser, the doctors and all those who stood by us during difficult times. It would take me an hour to name them all," she added.
The crew's trainer Mylonas did not clarify whether Bekatorou and Tsoulfa would compete in the 11th race scheduled for Saturday. "We haven't thought about it yet; the mission has been accomplished and we're going to celebrate this on land," he said.
Speaking of his athletes' victory, Mylonas said the Olympic medal was the only one missing from the array of accolades the two athletes had won. He acknowledged that perhaps experience was lacking at the Sydney Olympic Games and added "perhaps we needed to wait four years to make it."
 IOC: Athens Games progressing smoothly, perfectly
Athens, 20/8/2004 (ANA)Kudos were in order on Thursday at a daily press briefing by Athens organizers (ATHOC) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), with a spokeswoman for the latter reiterating that the 2004 Games are progressing extremely well and very smoothly.
In terms of the all-important ticket sales front and a nagging perception that some of the events -- particularly the morning sessions -- aren't generating enough local fan interest, ATHOC officials said more than 80,000 tickets alone were sold over the past five days, whereas nearly a dozen venues on Wednesday recorded capacity or near capacity crowds. The total ticket sales figure now stands at 3.165 million.
"People buy tickets for some sports (within the same facilities) and then move around, or attend just one session," ATHOC communications director Mihalis Zaharatos said, moments after fielding the first query at any of the briefings regarding "ticket scalping" outside some venues.
Thursday's press briefing comes less than 24 hours after the unprecedented holding of the men's and women's shot put event at the outdoor stadium of ancient Olympia -- the birthplace and venue for the ancient Games -- a competition that attracted more than 15,000 spectators and practically the entire IOC and Greek political leadership.
On her part, IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies added that the Lausanne-based organization was not surprised by how well the ongoing "Olympic homecoming" is proceeding. "Certainly we're impressed … we're pleased to see how well things are running," she said, noting that the IOC was confident in Greek organizers' ability to pull off excellent Olympics and that international federations, "across the board," were conveying their satisfaction.
"Today we see the venues increasingly full with a good crowd atmosphere," Davies said in response to the fan turn-out issue.
In a brief response to Wednesday's high-profile withdrawal of Greece's two top sprinters (Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou) from the ongoing Games amid a swirling anti-doping evasion furor, ATHOC officials underlined that the focus must now be on the Games. "This is an affair that has caused a lot of grief, but the Games must continue," ATHOC press and media head Seraphim Kotrotsos said.
In another matter involving the controversial doping issue that has dominated much of the press coverage at these Games, Davies confirmed that five weightlifters have tested positive. However, she said the incidents took place before any of the five competed. A press release by the international weightlifting federation listing the particulars is pending, she added.
Unconfirmed press reports have, nevertheless, identified the five weightlifters - none of whom is from the same country.
 Spokesman congratulates Olympia medalists
Athens, 20/8/2004 (ANA)Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos congratulated on Thursday all the "first" Olympic medalists who, after 1,611 years, competed once again in the stadium of Ancient Olympia.
Roussopoulos thanked the athletes and spectators for respecting the sacred site, birthplace of the Olympic Games.
"Olympia brought us closer to the fundamental values of our state," he said.
The Spokesman furthermore said the government would be bringing up an idea Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had voiced when New Democracy was still the main opposition party, that races should be organized with vehicles using alternative forms of energy, which would take the Flame from Olympia to the venue of car races every four years.
Athens 2004 President comments on events held at Ancient Olympia: "Yesterday the Olympic Games returned home. This event moves and inspires us. By having the Olympic Games return to Olympia, the Games' birthplace, we've made history. The invitation for men and women to compete there is also history in the making. The gods must be smiling," Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said on Thursday regarding the use of the stadium in Ancient Olympia for the staging of the men's and women's shot put events on Wednesday. It is the first time in modern Olympics history that Olympic sports events are being held in Ancient Olympia - the site where the ancient Games were held regularly.
 Spokesman assures no covering of any doping case
Athens, 20/8/2004 (ANA)Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos assured on Thursday that there would be "no covering up" of any doping case.
Replying to questions, Roussopoulos noted that he would comment on the no-show for anti-doping control case of Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou, when the IOC process was wrapped up, adding that the government would promote the purification of sports.
"We are all talking about clean games and the state must have the ability to implement this principle," he said.
He added that "there had been no tip-off regarding the use of steroids" to spur an initiative and pointed out that the steroids issue should not burden a single country, as it was an "international phenomenon."
 National Defense Minister hosts lunch for foreign correspondents
Athens, 20/8/2004 (ANA)National Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos hosted a lunch on Thursday for foreign correspondents in Athens, saying that the 2004 Olympic Games offered a very good opportunity to meet and exchange views with distinguished members of the world's press.
He said he hoped that the 2004 Olympic Games would prove that Greece is a successful nation and that it can have friends all over the world.
"We would like you to be our friends and act as Greece's ambassadors in your countries. I must admit that the Olympic spirit has indeed affected us all," the minister said to his guests.
 Everybody welcomed to Athens for the big party
Athens, 20/8/2004 (ANA)Ever been to a foreign country and invited to an open air party, with no end in sight? Well, if you have not, Athens, host city of the 2004 Olympic Games, is the place to be these days.
"I may not have done very well in the sport I competed but I am lucky to be in Athens. You know Greeks and Cubans have a lot in common, even though our countries are far from each other. We are lively, happy people," one athlete from Cuba has said.
A fan who is here from Sweden said she had never imagined that Greece could have organized such perfect Games.
"I only thought of Greece in terms of the sea and the sun. Now I know what you can achieve. Wonderful facilities, very warm welcome and a brilliant opening ceremony," she added.
And if we are to believe probably the most reliable source of information, the owner of a local kiosk in the commercial Ermou road, just of Athens' central square Syntagma, then "the number of visitors this year has surpassed any other year."
The landmark sites of the Greek capital, in a festive mood since the national football team became the European champion last month in EURO 2004 in Portugal, offer the visitor, local and foreign alike, a most welcoming ambience with special lighting set up, longer opening hours for cafes and restaurants, public spectacle in the form of theatrical performances and a variety of cultural events.
Drink flows in abundance in all the pubs, especially as midnight approaches, and demand for the traditional Greek dish - souvlaki - is definitely on the increase with people waiting in queues patiently to savor the distinctly delicious taste of this Greek dish.
"We have not stopped cooking souvlaki for one minute since lunchtime," a tired but overjoyed white-hair waiter has said.
Athens by night is not a sight to be missed by any visitor to this magnificent city, which has something to offer to everybody, young and old, local and foreigner, Olympic fan or not.
 Athens dazzles London's mayor
Athens, 20/8/2004 (ANA)Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday met with London's Lord Mayor Ken Livingstone, currently in Athens on an invitation by the municipality of Athens.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Livingstone expressed his very positive impressions of Athens and said: "I have not come in Athens for many years and I really do not recognize it. It is a reformed city with emphasis given to modernization without losing its identity. It is dazzling."
"I am very optimistic and I hope that before the next Olympic Games a rational compromise could be reached to satisfy both sides. I suppose that if a Greek millionaire had come to Britain one hundred years ago paying a few millions to a certain landlord to buy the Stonehenge and bring it here in Greece we could be complaining too," London's mayor told reporters commenting on the Parthenon Marbles.
Mrs Bakoyannis, speaking to reporters said that "It is a great pleasure to welcome Ken Livingstone. London is one of the candidate cities for the 2012 Olympic Games. Relations between the two cities should be close and that's what we achieving by creating a very good relation of cooperation".
The meeting was attended by UK's ambassador to Greece David Madden and municipal authorities from the Attica region.
 German Interior minister to attend Olympic Games in Athens
Athens, 20/8/2004 (ANA)German Interior Minister Otto Schily, who is also responsible for sports in his country, is due to visit Athens from August 22-24 in order to attend the 28th Olympic Games.
During his visit, Schily will watch a number of Olympic events and visit the 'German House', the Olympic Village and the Greek-German Olympic Camp. He is also scheduled to meet with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge, Greek Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis and the president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Richard Pound, as well as other sports organization officials, on the sidelines of the Games.
Finally, along with German Ambassador in Athens Albert Spiegel, he will hold a reception for the athletes of the German Olympic mission.
 Australia's Olympic medalist in a new role in Athens Games
Athens, 20/8/2004 (ANA)Russell Mark, the Australian athlete who won the gold in Atlanta (double trap) and the silver in Sydney, is currently in Athens for the Olympic Games, not as a shooter but as a trainer and sports commentator.
Mark is training his wife Lauryn, who will be competing in the women's skeet event. Speaking of being part of the Olympics in a different capacity, Mark told the ANA on Thursday: "There is really a great difference between now and when I was an athlete. I'm more nervous now. I'm not in control and I wait to see what the athlete will do. I used to be in control then. I had my fate in my own hands."
As a trainer and former athlete, Mark advises younger shooters "to accept that they've missed a target and to focus on the following target. Many talented shooters did not advance as much as they should have because they would become disappointed if they missed a target and wouldn't look forward," Mark said. The last word of advice he always gives his wife before she enters the shooting range is, "Trust what you've learned and what you worked on during training and everything will be fine."
Speaking of the Athens Olympics, Mark said that they are an important event for a small country such as Greece. "Perhaps you don't realize it now, but in a few years the level of shooting in Greece will improve because of the facility [Markopoulo Olympic Shooting Centre] that has been built here. It's definitely one of the top three in the world. And this isn't the only one [facility] that's great; all of the facilities are truly fantastic," he said.
He added that the Olympic venues in Greece are better in design than those of Sydney and that the atmosphere in Greece is really an Olympic Games atmosphere. "Yesterday I took a walk around Athens and I enjoyed it; it was perfect," Mark said, and added "I'm really happy to be here."
 Five weightlifters who tested positive named
Athens, 20/8/2004 (ANA)The International Weightlifting Federation has announced the names of the five athletes in the 2004 Olympic Games who have tested positive.
They are Wafa Ammouri (Morocco), Victor Chislean (Moldova), Zoltan Kecskes (Hungary), Na Pratina Kumari (India) and Sule Sahbaz (Turkey).
International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokeswoman Giselle Davies said on Thursday that the five did not pass an anti-doping test, adding that none of them had actually competed yet
She said that so far over a thousand such tests have been carried out during the Games, that got underway last week.
 Record numbers in women's participation
Athens, 20/8/2004 (ANA)The 2004 Olympic Games in Athens have attracted record numbers in women athletes' participation, registering a 38% increase since the Sidney Olympics and a 34% rise since the Atlanta Games.
According to figures, released on Thursday by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), in the 2004 Olympics women athletes are participating in 135 different events and in nearly all sports and disciplines, including wrestling and weightlifting.
There are in total 10.864 accredited athletes from 202 countries in the Games.
For every six men competitors there are four women competing in the Olympic Games, the IOC said.
Women did compete in the Paris Olympic Games in 1900, four years after the revival of the Games by Pierre de Coubertin, who at the time of the 1896 Games said that women's participation would be without interest, not feasible and improper.
In the Paris Olympic Games women participated in tennis, crocket, golf, horse-riding and sailing. Women athletes were not allowed to participate in track events until 1928.
 Ministers discuss bill on violence in sport grounds
Athens, 20/8/2004 (ANA)Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras met on Thursday with Deputy Culture Minister responsible for sport George Orfanos and discussed with him the bill concerning violence in sport grounds and the reform of athletic S.A.
After the meeting Orfanos said the procedure of discussions has been completed on an inter-governmental level, in relation with the implementation of the measures concerning violence.
The bill will be tabled as soon as Parliament opens, said Orfanos, underlining that it is apparent that the government has the intention of radically intervening in cleaning up Greek sport.
"We are starting from professional sport and there will be a continuation," Orfanos concluded.
 Deputy sports minister meets UNESCO Director General
Athens, 20/8/2004 (ANA)Deputy Culture Minister responsible for sport met with UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura in Athens on Thursday.
The main topic discussed was the plan of the International Anti-Doping Convention, which will be one of the major issues of the 4th International Conference of Sports Ministers (MINEPS IV), which will be held in Athens from December 6-8, 2004.
 Gov't ups cost of Athens 2004 Olympics to over 7.0 bln euros
Athens, 20/8/2004 (ANA)The Athens 2004 Olympics will cost Greece more than 7.0 billion euros, Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas said on Thursday.
The government had recently revised its cost estimate for the games to around 6.0 billion euros from the previous government's original budget of 4.6 billion euros.
"Cost overruns for the Olympics played the main role in the fiscal deficit exceeding 4.0 percent of gross domestic product," Doukas told a meeting of the Athens Business Club, created to spur corporate links during the 2004 Olympics.
"As a result, it will difficult to attain the target of lowering the fiscal deficit to below 3.0 percent of GDP," Doukas said.
The government was mulling a plan of seeking expressions of interest from private individuals for the acquisition of facilities used in the Olympics, he added.
Doukas outlined the government's priorities of overhauling the taxation system without lowering income, containing the fiscal deficit and military spending, speeding up the absorption of European Union funds, cutting red tape, stepping up privatization, modernizing the labor market, and attracting private sector capital into infrastructure projects.
 Development ministry earmarks 47 mln euros to promote women's business activity
Athens, 20/8/2004 (ANA)Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Thursday approved the inclusion of 567 business plans to a Third Cycle of a Business Programme called "Competitiveness" regarding business activity by women.
A total of 791 business plans were submitted of which 567 were finally evaluated and budgeted at 47 million euros.
The new business plans will create a total of 1,630 job positions, of which 841 covering new jobs and 798 self-employment.
The program covers business plans budgeted between 30,000 and 150,000 euros for activities in the manufacturing sector, between 30,000 and 90,000 for activities in commerce, services and tourism.
Public support covers 50 percent of total budget.
 Thessaloniki hosts event on business activity in the Balkans
Athens, 20/8/2004 (ANA)Greece's External Trade Organization (OPE) and the Union of Northern Greece Industry (SBBE) on Wednesday held a theme event on "Thessaloniki, Greece's Gate to the Balkans" with the participation of businesses based in the city of Thessaloniki and the wider Northern Greece region.
Addressing the even, Economy and Finance Deputy Minister Christos Folias presented in detail the vital role and the comparative advantages of the city's business community towards developing cooperation with emerging markets in the Balkan region and promoting investment initiatives.
OPE's managing director Panagiotis Drosos, in his address presented the Organization's actions aimed to effectively support the business community of Thessaloniki and Northern Greece, and to effectively use their experience in the Balkan region. OPE plays a very significant role in Northern Greece supporting both local business community and foreign investors seeking access to market of 230 million consumers in the Balkans.
SBEE's president Dimitris Symeonidis, in his address, referred to Northern Greece's significant business environment and Thessaloniki's modern infrastructure.
OPE is a non-profit state organization, supervised by the Economy and Finance ministry. Its mission is to implement national policy on exports and external trade in general, supporting the export of product and services, and encouraging export activity by Greek enterprises.
 Stocks nose up in wake of early rise, late selling
Athens, 20/8/2004 (ANA)Stocks finished higher with an early rise mostly offset by a late bout of selling in selected stocks, influenced by a correction in other European markets, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,257.54 points, showing a rise of 0.08 percent. Turnover was 99.8 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.20 percent up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.08 percent higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.04 percent down.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 144 to 123 with 82 remaining unchanged.
 Post-operational state of renowned composer Mikis Theodorakis very good
Athens, 20/8/2004 (ANA)The post-operational state of renowned composer Mikis Theodorakis, who had a stone removed from his gallbladder at the Evangelismos hospital in Athens on Wednesday, was reported as being very good on Thursday.
A medical bulletin issued on Thursday said the state of Theodorakis' health is improving continuously, and reminded that the patient is continuing to be treated in the intensive care ward of the hospital's university intensive care clinic.
 Revolutionary telescope research projects, observation buoys network, presented at Zappeion Press Center
Athens, 20/8/2004 (ANA)Two Greek revolutionary telescope research programs and an observation buoys network were presented on Thursday at the Zappeion Press Center.
The Athens National Observatory's Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics' (IAA) new state-of the-art "Aristarchos" 2.3 m telescope, the NESTOR microscipe -- one of three neutrino telescopes in the world -- and the Poseidon network of observation buoys were outlined to Greek and foreign journalists at an event hosted by Greece's General Secretariat for Research and Technology, which belongs to the Ministry of Development.
The Aristarchos 2.3m Ritchey-Chretien telescope, built by the Carl Zeiss Jena GmbH atop Mt. Helmos in the northern Peloponnese, some 150 km. from Athens, is named after the revolutionary 3rd century BC Greek astronomer and mathematician from Samos (310-250 BC) who, centuries before Copernicus, first posed the heliocentric theory, namely that the earth was not the center of the universe but revolved around the sun.
Aristarchos was considered a "crackpot" in his time because of this theory, according to IAA director, Professor Christos Goudis, mainly because the then scientific and social communities lacked the maturity to fathom such an idea.
It stands 9-meters high and weighs 34 tones, and is situated at an altitude of 2,340 meters. The largest telescope in the eastern Mediterranean and Balkan region, the Aristarchos telescope, budgeted at an estimated 5 million euros, is financed by the European Commission and the Greek development ministry's general secretariat for research and technology. The project aims to upgrade astronomical research and encourage international scientific collaborations.
The Aristarchos telescope is a member of the Opticon-International European Consortium of Medium Size Telescopes.
The second cutting-edge technology telescope research project presented was the NESTOR (Neutrino Extended Submarine Telescope with Oceanographic Research) program, the facility of which is under construction near the town of Pylos in the southwest Peloponnese, with the collaboration of American, German, Greek, Italian, Swiss and Russian scientists, under the aegis of Greece's general secretariat for research and technology.
The NESTOR Institute for deep sea research and neutrino astroparticle physics is designed to use a high bandwidth electro-optical cable to transmit the acquired data to the shore with a very high bandwidth optical link. The capacity of the link is such that a series of other experiments can operate in parallel and transmit their data to shore through the same cable.
As for the Poseidon system, it is a network of 11 oceanographic observation buoys/sensors that continuously records the physical, biological and chemical parameters of the Greek seas, a unique planning tool in the endeavor for the projection of the marine environment, which provides an advantage for the safeguarding of human life, the prevention of disaster, and the development of business activity. The buoys transmit real-time data to the Hellenic Center for Marine Research's (HCMR) Institute of Oceanography.
Based on a network of 11 oceanographic buoys and a system of atmospheric /oceanic models, the POSEIDON system provides real-time observations and forecasts of the marine environmental conditions in the Aegean Sea. The buoy network collects and transmits in real-time a set of meteorological, sea state and upper-ocean physical and biochemical data. The numerical forecasting system provides every day 72hour forecasts of weather, sea state, current field and hydrological conditions.
Currently, three of the buoys are being used at the Olympic Sailing Center, at Aghios Kosmas in the coastal area of southern Attica, for the sailing events at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
 Church of Greece NGO to send 3m Euro worth of food to Ukraine and Balkans
Athens, 20/8/2004 (ANA)Church of Greece NGO "Solidarity" will be providing 3 million Euro worth of food aid to metropolises, charity organizations and other social institutions in Ukraine and the Balkan countries.
"Solidarity", in co-operation with the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Foods, is already developing specific programs aiming at covering the increased needs of the organizations.
The aid will comprise agricultural products, such as potatoes, peaches, beans and onions, worth 2,959,000 Euro.
Through the implementation of this program, Greek producers are expected to be significantly strengthened.
 Cyprus ready to face any developments from Turkey
NICOSIA 20/8/2004 (CNA/ANA)The Turkish side is obviously aiming at exercising pressure on the European Union for the realization of promises allegedly given by the Union to Turkey, the Cyprus President's Press Office Director Marios Karoyian told CNA.
He was commenting on statements made after a meeting on Wednesday in Ankara between Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and self-styled prime minister and foreign minister of the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus, Mehmet Ali Talat and Serdar Denktash.
The Cypriot official noted the readiness of the Greek Cypriot side to face any possible developments that may take place.
Asked to comment on a statement by Gul that the Turkish side is expecting some important steps to be made in September by the EU, Karoyian said that ''they probably refer to promises, allegedly given by the EU," noting that the Cyprus government would further comment on the situation after receiving more information on the subject.
On press reports that the issue of Turkey's customs union with the Cyprus Republic was also discussed at the Ankara meeting, Karoyian said that ''it is absolutely clear that from the moment Turkey aims to get a date for its accession negotiations with the EU it must fully comply with its obligations towards the EU and expand its customs union to Cyprus''.
''It was made clear to Turkey by the European Commission and everybody responsible on this issue that its customs union should also be expanded to the Cyprus Republic'', the Cypriot official added.