|Thursday, 14 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-08-23
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>August 23, 2004
 Powell to visit Athens for Olympics closing ceremony, will meet Karamanlis and Molyviatis
Athens, 23/8/2004 (ANA)US Secretary of State Colin Powell will be visiting Athens from August 28th to 30th, to represent the United States at the closing ceremony of the Athens 2004 Olympic Summer Games.
During his stay, Powell will meet with Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Minister of Foreign Affairs Petros Molyviatis.
 Shooting - World federation says Greece staging best Olympics ever
Athens, 23/8/2004 (ANA)Greece is staging the best Olympics ever, the president of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), Olegario Vazquez Rana, said on Sunday.
"Greeks are really staging the best Olympic Games in history. Everything is great. We are all very satisfied and enjoying being here. Greeks are friendly, pleasant and helpful at all times," Rana told the Athens News Agency in an interview.
"The Markopoulo Olympic Shooting Centre is superb, perhaps the best in the world," he said.
The ISSF chief noted that many Olympic and world records had been set in shooting, aided by the quality of facilities. "A world cup or championship in a year or two could very well be held here. We'll see."
 Record TV viewing of Olympic Games Opening Ceremony on world scale
Athens, 23/8/2004 (ANA)The Opening Ceremony in Athens of the 28th Olympic Games left the best impressions throughout the world and created a new record in TV viewing on a world scale, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Sunday.
Specifically, in Britain and the BBC, the opening ceremony was watched by more than 8.5 viewers, accounting for 38.1 percent (2.5 times more than the opening ceremony in Sydney).
In France, 7.3 million viewers watched the ceremony on France 2 Channel, accounting for 39.9 percent.
In Germany, more than 12.95 million people saw the ceremony on ZTF, accounting for 50 percent (3.5 times more than the opening ceremony in Sydney).
In the United States, more than 56 million viewers watched the ceremony on NBC.
 Palli-Petralia says Games 'progressing very well'
Athens, 23/8/2004 (ANA)Greek Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia said on Sunday that the 2004 Olympic Games are progressing very well but noted that this does not mean that the Greek authorities are becoming complacent.
"The Olympic Games is not the end, it is the beginning. It is the springboard for the development of Greek sports, it is a challenge for the future," she told ANA, having watched the four Greek athletes who competed in equestrian events.
She said this is the overall assessment of foreign visitors, federations and athletes who talk about the fantastic facilities, the hospitality and the organization of the Games.
The deputy minister said people will continue to be on the alert up until the last day of the Games and said she was pleased to see the four Greek athletes in equestrian events.
Speaking to ANA after Sunday's equestrian events, the president of the Greek Equestrian Federation Isidoros Kouvelos appeared very pleased and encouraged by the results achieved so far by the Greek athletes, saying they give hope for better results.
He said the Games are fantastic, the hippodrome and the Olympic centre the best in the world, while crowd attendance is big.
Athens mayor Dora Bakoyannis said people who are involved in Olympic Games are very impressed and have congratulated Greece.
"Greece has raised the stakes for anybody who wants to stage the Games in the future," she said, warning however that this does not mean people should become complacent.
 Alternate culture minister says Greece wins gold in Olympic Games organization
Athens, 23/8/2004 (ANA)Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia visited the Olympic shooting centre at Markopoulo, outside Athens, on Sunday and was given a guided tour of the facility by Greek Shooting Federation President Pavlos Kanellakis.
Speaking to the Athens News Agency (ANA), Petralia said Greece is winning the gold medal in the Olympic Games' organization sector.
"We are certainly winning the gold medal for the Olympic Games we are hosting and organizing with such a great success," she said.
Referring to her visit to the shooting centre, the minister said "it's probably the 10th time I am coming to this facility. On most occasions I had come here some time ago, when there was quiet, for the timely completion of projects. I think it is one of the three biggest and best shooting centers in the world."
 Greece's Tampakos wins gold medal in men's rings
Athens, 23/8/2004 (ANA)Greece's Dimosthenis Tampakos won the gold medal in the men's rings with 9.862 points on Sunday night. The silver medal was won by Jordan Jovtchev of Bulgaria with 9.850 points and the bronze by Yuri Chechi of Italy with 9.812 points.
Following his victory, Tampakos said:"I thank God for the gold medal. This is a magic moment for me, but I must say that I am not yet conscious of it and some time must pass. The public was fantastic, it helped me very much and I thank it immensely. I thank all Greeks and all those who helped me to reach the highest step."
Messages of congratulations were sent by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou.
In his message, Karamanlis said:"The latest success of Dimosthenis Tampakos is a triumphant rewarding of his systematic, persistent preparation and his concentration to his objective. We are overjoyed over his golden victory and all Greeks are celebrating it. I express to our Olympic champion my warmest congratulations."
Papandreou in his message said:"Congratulations Dimosthenis for the gold medal in the rings. You managed to give great joy and self-confidence to all Greeks and the certainty that more medals will follow."
Skiathitis and Polymeros win first Greek Olympic medal for rowing: Nikolaos Skiathitis and Vasileios Polymeros, the two Greeks competing in the lightweight double sculls rowing event, on Sunday won the first Olympic medal for Greece in a rowing event after a third-place finish in the finals that earned them the bronze.
PM, opposition leader congratulate rowers Polymeros and Skiathitis for Olympic Games bronze medal: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou congratulated rowers Vassilis Polymeros and Nikos Skiathitis for winning the bronze medal in the men's lightweight double sculls rowing race on Sunday.
"Vassilis Polymeros and Nikos Skiathitis gave a splendid struggle, they surpassed themselves and achieved a great victory. They moved all Greeks and made them proud. I extend my warm congratulations to them," Karamanlis said in a statement.
"I congratulate you for the great success in a sport which will have a great development in Greece from now on. We all thank you for the great joy you gave us," Papandreou said in a message of congratulations he sent to the rowers.
 Four-time weightlifting champion Dimas steals show at medalists' press conference
Athens, 23/8/2004 (ANA)Greek athletes who won medals during Saturday's finals in weightlifting, sailing and discus held their traditional press conference at the Hellenic Olympic Committee (EOE), with three-time gold medalist Pyrros Dimas, who ended his career with a bronze medal in the men's 85-kilogram category -- his fourth medal in as many consecutive Olympic Games -- once again stealing the show.
Visibly overwhelmed by the standing ovation the spectators had in store for him at Saturday night, which delayed the award's ceremony for several minutes, and his eyes glistening with tears, Dimas said that it had been the "perfect end" to his impressive career, which he announced to the world by taking off his sport shoes and leaving them on the contestants' platform moments after clinching the bronze, despite a wrist injury.
With his right wrist bandaged, Dimas could not find words to thank his coach, fellow athletes and federation officials for all their support, and dedicated his medal to all the Greeks.
Dimas also could not hide his sadness over the issue of fellow weightlifter Leonidas Sampanis, who had the bronze medal he won last week in the 62-kilogram category stripped from him by the IOC after both anti-doping tests on the athlete's sample tested positive for high levels of testosterone, saying only "it is an injustice, a big injustice...we are all upset...".
Asked how he had celebrated his achievement, Dimas said he had not returned to the Olympic Village, but instead went home "to see my children".
"When you see your daughter crying for you, the sentiments are indescribable. She was crying with joy, and made me 10 times happier," Dimas said.
Sophia Becatorou and Aimilia Tsioulfa, who took the gold in the 470 sailing event, said they were very pleased with their accomplishment, noting that it was the result of many years of hard work.
Anastasia (Tasoula) Kelesidou, who won the silver medal in the women's discuss, , said she was moved with the accomplishment, which came after several difficult years, as it was not only her second consecutive silver in as many Olympic Games, but also by the fact that she had won it at the Athens Games.
 IOC strips bronze from weightlifter Leonidas Sampanis for doping
Athens, 23/8/2004 (ANA)International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokeswoman Giselle Davis confirmed on Sunday that Greek weightlifter Leonidas Sampanis has been stripped of the bronze medal he won early last week in the 62-kilogram category and excluded from the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, and that his case would be referred to the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), after a second test on the athlete's sample also tested positive for high testosterone levels, as had the first test.
Sampanis is also required to return his Games accreditation.
In both anti-doping tests on his sample, Leonidas Sampanis' testosterone was above 12, while the maximum allowed level was 6, said Davies, during the daily IOC press briefing.
Davies also clarified that no other individual was involved in the decision regarding Sampanis, adding that "the athlete's second sample was exactly the same as the first sample", and noting that the testosterone was due to outside factors (meaning that it was not produced by the body).
"Sampanis' case involves violation of the doping regulations," she said.
Speaking at the same briefing, the IOC medical commission's Medical Director Patrick Shamash said that the athlete's side had spoken of the regiment of (legal) medications followed by Sampanis. However, he added, that regiment could not in any way affect the final result. He explained that the testosterone level in Sampanis' sample had been confirmed by a new method, conducted by international laboratories and WADA.
Both samples tested above 12, Shamash said, adding that it was not the concern of the IOC how the substance was introduced into Sampanis' system.
Davies further denied rumors that the IOC had taken the Hellenic Olympic Committee (EOE) to task over the doping issue, and clarified that there had been contact with the EOE only to ask the return of Sampanis' medal and accreditation.
Speaking on behalf of the Athens 2004 organizing committee (ATHOC), the director of ATHOC's press and media office Serafeim Kotrotsos said that the EOE had made a commitment from the outset for clean Olympic Games, adding that the event was progressing in an impeccable manner, with not the slightest problem arising in the two peak days of the Games thus far, on Friday and Saturday.
Meanwhile, with respect to ticket sales, ATHOC said that a total of 3.347 million tickets had been sold so far, with 43,200 tickets sold on Saturday alone.
Finally, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) spokeswoman Miriam Wilkens said that 4,000 athletes from 145 countries would take part in the Athens Paralympics, to take place from 17 to 29 September, competing in 19 sports.
Doping - 16 athletes out of the Games to date: The 2004 Olympic Games are already half-way through and so far 16 athletes have either been expelled or have withdrawn from the Games because of the use of prohibited substances or their refusal to be subjected to a drug test.
Since July 30th, when the Olympic Village opened its gates, 1821 tests have been carried out, 1414 of which were from urine samples and 407 from blood samples.
Unannounced tests are carried out and the four top athletes in any sport as well as two of those competing in the specific sport, selected by draw, are obliged to undergo an anti-doping test.
Of the 16 athletes who have tested positive, nine are weightlifters.
The 16 are the following:
1. August 9: Andrew James Brack and Derek Nickolson, members of the Greek baseball team
2. August 10 - David Munyasia (boxer from Kenya)
3. August 12 Aye Khine Nan (weightlifter from Burma)
4. August 18 Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou, both from Greece, announced they handed back their accreditation and their withdrawal from the Olympic Games
5. August 19 Sule Sahbaz from Turkey, Pratima Kumari Na from India, Wafa Ammouri from Morocco,Victor Chislean from Moldavia and Zoltan Kecskes from Hungary
6. August 20 Olga Shchukina (shot put) from Uzbekistan and Sanamacha Chanu (weightlifter) from India)
7. August 21 Leonidas Sampanis (weightlifter) from Greece and Albina Khomich (weightlifter) from Russia
8. August 22 Irina Korzhanenko from Russia (shot put) from Russia
 Shooting - Ahmed Almaktoum speaks to ANA on Greece and future plans
Athens, 23/8/2004 (ANA)Ahmed Almaktoum, Olympic gold medalist in men's double trap, has said he intends to quit the sport and spend time with his family - but he needs to find something else to do, he has admitted.
Ahmed, who comes from the United Arab Emirates, said he is very impressed with the facilities provided in the 2004 Olympic Games and expressed great satisfaction at being part of these Games in Greece, which he described as a friendly country.
When asked about his opinion of Greece, he said the first thing he noticed and liked was the weather, which is not as hot as in his own country.
"People are friendly, they smile and are always ready to help you. The facilities are fantastic and the Olympic Games excellent. I am very glad I came here," he said.
He said that people often ask him why he came to Athens."To win the gold medal, of course, I reply," he told ANA in an interview, and explained that the Olympic gold medal was the only one missing from his large collection of medals and prizes from shooting competitions since he began participating in 1998.
Ahmed is a 41-year-old US-educated, wealthy, down to earth devout Moslem who believes that having a lot of money does not necessarily bring you happiness. He is a close relative of the UAE's vice president and of the prince of Dubai. He trains at his own private shooting centre twice a day, five days a week.
He said he wants to have a break now and spend time with his family.
"I am thinking of stopping because I have won all the major events, I want to do something else, I do not know what but it will not be a sport," he told ANA.
 Miracle of the Iraqi men's Olympic soccer team
Athens, 23/8/2004 (ANA)When Iraq's mission left Baghdad for Athens to participate in the Olympic Games, its members wore bullet-proof vests and boarded a C-130 transport plane belonging to the Australian air force.
In Amman, Jordan, they changed flight and clothes and landed at Athens airport without the "scars" of war on them. On their return to Iraq not much is expected to change. However, there might be a basic difference. Under their bullet-proof vests, the members of the men's Olympic soccer team might be concealing a medal which their country has been deprived of for four decades.
The performance of Iraq's team in the men's Olympic soccer tournament is considered a miracle. Nobody dared to venture into the streets of Baghdad to celebrate its qualifying for the semifinals, as would have happened in the past.
The team, however, is pressing ahead. On Saturday the players of federal coach Adnan Hamad beat Australia 1-0 at the Pankritio Stadium in Crete and qualified for the semifinals and will be playing against Paraguay in the northern city of Thessaloniki.
Qualifying for the final will automatically mean the winning of a medal after 44 years, since the last time an Iraqi won a medal in the Olympic Games was in Rome in 1960 when Wahid Aziz won a bronze medal in weightlifting.
Hamad, however, has no illusions.
"The people at home have so much on their minds and they are facing terrible problems. We want to give them some joy, even if soccer can no longer have a dominant position in their lives," he said.
 Greece - France discuss cooperation in energy sector
Athens, 23/8/2004 (ANA)Greek Development Minister Demetris Sioufas met on Sunday with the president of EDF (Electricite de France) Francois Roussely and French Ambassador in Athens Bruno Delaye.
Discussions at the meeting focused on matters of mutual interest and in particular cooperation in energy issues. They also discussed cooperation between the Greek Public Power Corporation and the EDF.
 Athens Business Club 2004: Minister visits exhibition on Greek business innovation
Athens, 23/8/2004 (ANA)Innovative Greek products resulting from applied research along with pioneering business solutions to meet the needs of global markets are on display until Tuesday, in an exhibition arranged by the Athens Business Club 2004 to spur corporate links during the Olympics.
Held at the National Bank of Greece's training center in the coastal resort of Glyfada, the exhibition is also organized by the Greek External Trade Organization and the development ministry's general secretariat of research and technology. The finance ministry has supported the event, in which 42 companies, seven research centre, and six universities are displaying their work.
Visiting the exhibition on Sunday, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said the government backed innovation in the market through R&D, for which his ministry is responsible.
"We are making a dynamic entrance into the new era with optimism and confidence in the creative abilities of Greek society," the minister told reporters.
 Warlamis' "Mother Olympiad" opens at Zappeion Hall
Athens, 23/8/2004 (ANA)"Mother Olympiad," an exhibit featuring the works of art of Efthymios Warlamis dedicated to the Olympic Games and Mother's love, was inaugurated at the Zappeion Hall on Sunday evening.
Actor Stratos Tzortzoglou introduced the exhibit, thanking the Municipality of Athens, the Health and Culture Ministries, the General Secretariat of Youth and the exhibit's sponsors for making the exhibit possible. He then read Warlamis' statement regarding the central theme of the exhibit.
Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia gave a brief address, calling the exhibit "worthwhile and special," while also pointing out that it is being held at an opportune time when "We, as Greeks, are proving that we know, want and are able to stage successful Olympic Games."
Palli-Petralia explained the association between the exhibit and the Olympic Games by referring to the fact that while women were forbidden from participating in and attending the Olympic Games during ancient times, Dimitra's priestess - the eternal symbol of the mother figure - was the primary honorary figure at the Games. Palli-Petralia cited the story of Kallipateira, the mother of ancient Olympian Pisidoros, who defied the law and attended the Games disguised as a man in order to watch her son compete. When Pisidoros won, she rushed to congratulate him, unconcerned about the possible consequences she would have to pay. Although she had broken the law, she was pardoned since she was the mother of an Olympic champion.
The minister called the exhibit "a fortunate occasion," since it reveals another dimension of the Olympic Games.
Austrian ambassador to Greece Rene Pollitzer also gave a short speech on behalf of Dr. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Austrian Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs. Pollitzer described Warlamis as "a true universal artist," whose art is dedicated to peace, tolerance and mutual understanding. Additionally, the ambassador thanked the Mayor of Athens for offering Zappeion Hall as a venue for the exhibit and thanked Warlamis "for sharing your vision of truth, understanding and peace through your eyes."
Theodoros Antoniou, the musician who composed the music accompanying the exhibit, referred to the artist's difficult task of using contemporary means of expression while at the same time preserving his/her traditional values and roots. The music he composed especially for the exhibit, is influenced by Warlamis' work in general and its ability of connecting past, present and future. Antoniou therefore decided to combine ancient musical instruments with contemporary instruments.
Finally, the artist himself addressed attendees, explaining that the exhibit is dedicated to women in general and constitutes a challenge for younger generations of women to invest in tomorrow's Olympic champions, because as Warlamis said, "Victory does not belong to doping and illegal substances, but to legal substances such as maternal love."
Warlamis was born in Greece but currently lives in Austria.