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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-08-26

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

August 26, 2004


  • [01] Greece' s Halkia wins the gold in women' s 400m hurdles
  • [02] Greece's Kaklamanakis wins silver medal in Mistral sailing race
  • [03] Kelesidou says silver in discus throw a lifetime dream
  • [04] Wrestler Kiouregkian wins the bronze
  • [05] Doping issues again dominate ATHOC, IOC press briefing
  • [06] Amb. Miller says Papandreou-Powell to meet Sunday; notes Athens Olympics good and safe
  • [07] Park of Greek Culture
  • [08] Queen Sofia of Spain tours MPC, speaks of 'fantastic' days during Olympiad
  • [09] Final push for Thessaloniki's bid to host 2008 Expo presented on sidelines of Athens Games
  • [10] Hospital records of Kenteris/Thanou sent to prosecutor
  • [11] PASOK says it will 'expose government's plan to disorientate public opinion'
  • [12] Kwasniewski visits Polish officers stationed at Megalos Pefkos
  • [13] Lowest bidders to win state tenders under new bill
  • [14] Public Works Minister unveils priority projects
  • [15] Gov't to simplify red tape for creation of new industries
  • [16] Athens Business Club 2004: Greece again to attempt privatization of Olympic Airlines
  • [17] Greek economy to offer major investment opportunities if promised structural changes are made, ACCI president tells int'l press
  • [18] Stocks rise, led by banks
  • [19] FIFA wants big fan turnout at Olympic football finals; Blatter says Greece could hold Euro championship
  • [20] Patriarch Vartholomeos leads service on island of Imvros

  • [01] Greece' s Halkia wins the gold in women' s 400m hurdles

    Athens, 26/8/2004 (ANA)

    Greek athlete Fani Halkia finished in 52.82 to win the gold medal in the women's 400m hurdles final on Wednesday. She is the third Greek athlete to win Olympic gold in an athletics event, after Voula Patoulidou and Costas Kenteris.

    Ionela Tirlea-Manolache of Romania won the silver with a finish time of 53.38, while Ukrainian Tatiana Tereshchuk-Antipova won the bronze with a finish time of 53.44.

    Greece's 400m hurdles winner Halkia says 'I was certain I would win': In statements after winning the gold medal in the women's 400m hurdles on Wednesday night, Greece's Fani Halkia said:"I am very happy. When I entered the stadium I was certain I would win. It may sound arrogant but I felt it very intensely with all these people. I wanted to show the world that the Greeks are born for the top. Over and above the effort I made since September, the determination and the Greek spirit and nothing else, is not needed for the top. Everything else is a substitute for the second, who try to reach the first. We Greeks are born athletes and we do not need a crutches. I went in with passion and won. I am really happy and what I say is very little for what I felt in the stadium. I thank all the people. We all needed it very much to celebrate. People will not turn out at Omonia Square. I will go by myself to celebrate and run round the square."

    PM congratulates Fani Halkia for winning gold medal in women's 400m hurdles race: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis congratulated Fani Halkia for winning the gold medal in the women's 400 hurdles race in the Olympic Games on Wednesday night.

    "Fani Halkia, with her golden victory, gave Greek athletics one of its greatest Olympic distinctions. All the Greeks are joyful and are celebrating with her. I extend my warmest congratulations to our Olympic Games gold medalist," the prime minister said in a statement.

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou congratulated Fani Halkia. "My warmest congratulations for your wonderful victory. You spoke directly to our hearts and you shone with your passion and strength. You proved that the star of Greek athletics is and will remain high in spite of all who are trying to overshadow it," Papandreou said in his message of congratulations to her.

    [02] Greece's Kaklamanakis wins silver medal in Mistral sailing race

    Athens, 26/8/2004 (ANA)

    Greek windsurfer Nikos Kaklamanakis on Wednesday won the silver medal after the final race of the men's Mistral event with Israel's Gal Fridman winning the gold medal and Britain's Nick Dempsey the bronze.

    Nikos Kaklamanakis was born in August 19, 1968 and started sailing in 1979. He completed his athletic carrier by winning the silver medal in the Athens Olympic Games, the second in his collection after winning the gold medal in Atlanta in 1996. His first appearance in the Olympic Games was in Barcelona in 1992. He finished sixth in the Sydney 2000 Games where he was the flag-bearer at the opening ceremony. Kaklamanakis was the last torch-bearer who lit the Olympic cauldron in Athens.

    Kaklamanakis fought "one of the most difficult races" in his career: Nikos Kaklamanakis, Olympic silver medalist in sailing (men's mistral), said he had to fight hard and regain his composure to carry on during Wednesday's final race.

    "This was one of the most difficult races in my career but the most important one. It was as if the whole world had conspired on my behalf," Kaklamanakis said at a press conference after his win.

    When asked if this was the last race in his successful career, he did not reply.

    The reply came from his mother who was around:"finito la musica, passato la fiesta" (the music is over, the celebrations are over), indicating that Kaklamanakis' career has come to an end.

    She was talking to an Israeli journalist explaining to him that her son and Athens gold medal winner in sailing (mistral) from Israel are very good friends and have been training together.

    The race began with very ominous signs for Kaklamanakis and at one stage he was 17th overall. That is when he decided to surpass himself, and he did so to the delight and the relief of the many spectators who went to cheer him.

    "Sailing is not an easy sport, it needs strong nerves, " he said.

    Congratulations from PM, PASOK: Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis congratulated on Wednesday Greek silver medalist in sailing (Mistral) Nikos Kaklamanakis on his success.

    "Nikos Kaklamanakis has won an Olympic medal in Athens as well and has made us all proud once more. He has worked methodically, has competed with tenacity, was vindicated and succeeded. I express my warm congratulations," the prime minister said in his message.

    The leader of the main opposition party PASOK George Papandreou also congratulated Kaklamanakis, saying that "you have beaten the wind, the sea and the difficulties you have encountered. Once more, you have made us proud."

    Kaklamanakis won the silver medal after the final race in the men's Mistral event. This success signals the end of his athletic career, after many other accolades, including the gold medal in Atlanta in 1996.

    His first appearance in the Olympic Games was in Barcelona in 1992. He finished sixth in the Sydney 2000 Games where he was the flag-bearer at the opening ceremony. Kaklamanakis was the last torch-bearer in Athens and lit the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony on Friday 13th August.

    [03] Kelesidou says silver in discus throw a lifetime dream

    Athens, 26/8/2004 (ANA)

    Anastasia Kelesidou said on Wednesday that the silver medal she won in the discus throw finals in the context of the Athens 2004 Olympic Summer Games was a lifetime dream.

    "I am very happy for the second silver Olympic medal of my career. Of course this medal is special because I won it at home. It could not have been but a lifetime dream," Kelesidou told reporters at a press conference organized by Adidas company.

    Asked about her future aims, the Greek athlete said she would rest first and then set new goals. "Why should I not be present in Beijing? Of course, four years is a long time but we shall see," she added.

    Referring to the Athens 2004 Games, Kelesidou said "everything is perfect and I believe the foreigners are so far very satisfied, there was no complaint."

    At the end of the press conference, Kelesidou received a standing ovation.

    [04] Wrestler Kiouregkian wins the bronze

    Athens, 26/8/2004 (ANA)

    Artiom Kiouregkian of Greece defeated Ukrainian Oleksiy Vakulenko 6-0 to win the bronze medal - the first medal for Greece in wrestling during these Games - in the men's Greco-Roman 55kg bronze medal match on Wednesday.

    Kiouregkian says bronze not bad for first participation: Artiom Kiouregkian, who won the bronze medal for Greece in the men's Greco-Roman 55kg wrestling event, in the context of the Athens 2004 Olympic Summer Games, said the bronze was not bad, although he would have preferred the gold medal.

    "I want to thank my trainers, the federation and my family for standing by my side all this time. I started off well but was injured later on. I wanted the gold but the bronze is not bad if one considers that this is my first participation in Olympic Games," Kiouregkian told reporters at a press conference.

    Prime Minister and opposition congratulate Kiouregkian on bronze medal: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis congratulated Artiom Kiouregkian for winning the bronze medal for Greece in the men's Greco-Roman 55kg wrestling event, in the context of the Athens 2004 Olympic Summer Games.

    In a statement, Karamanlis said that "Artiom Kiouregkian managed a great victory and led Greco-Roman wrestling to yet another Olympic distinction."

    George Papandreou, leader of main opposition party PASOK, also congratulated the athlete on his achievement. "Warm congratulations for winning the bronze medal. Your effort indicates that Greco-Roman wrestling possesses unending and new powers."

    [05] Doping issues again dominate ATHOC, IOC press briefing

    Athens, 26/8/2004 (ANA)

    The scourge of doping on Wednesday continued to dominate reporters' questions during the regular daily press briefing by Athens organizers (ATHOC) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), with a spokeswoman for the latter saying that the more athletes found in violation of anti-doping rules means "cleaner" Games.

    Spokeswoman Giselle Davies nevertheless denied reports that another instance of doping or anti-doping evasion has been recorded, beyond the latest incidents involving a Hungarian discus thrower and a Belarus high jumper.

    Doping checks also increased by 25 percent from the Sydney Games four years ago, she added.

    Finally, Davies said she had no information, and thus no comment, in response to a press question on whether the IOC will display the confiscated accreditations of Greek sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou, as well as controversial coach Christos Tzekos, at its Lausanne museum.

    [06] Amb. Miller says Papandreou-Powell to meet Sunday; notes Athens Olympics good and safe

    Athens, 26/8/2004 (ANA)

    George Papandreou, leader of main opposition party PASOK, will discuss issues of mutual interest with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, during a meeting scheduled for Sunday in Athens, US Ambassador to Greece Thomas Miller said on Wednesday.

    In statements after a meeting with Papandreou, Miller also referred to the Athens 2004 Olympic Summer Games, saying that Greece has done a very good job both in organizing the Games and in keeping them safe.

    Demonstration to be held on account of Powell's visit: The organization "Stop the War" in cooperation with the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) and other workers' unions are organizing a rally at the Propylae of Athens University on Friday at 7 p.m., followed by a march to the US Embassy, on the occasion of US Secretary of State Colin Powell's visit to Athens for the Olympics closing ceremony.

    According to the GSEE press conference held on Wednesday, Powell's visit to Greece provokes anti-war sentiments in the crushing majority of the Greek population, which does not accept US President George Bush using the Olympics as a campaign platform.

    "United we can stop them; we can join our voice with the voice of those who believed that the Olympics signify peace and a truce among nations and take to the streets," the rally's organizers said.

    GSEE believes that Powell's presence in the country which conceived the ideas of Olympism, the Olympic Truce and the peaceful coexistence of peoples, bears no relation to the spirit and values of the Games and therefore has no place in this event which celebrates humanity and reconciliation. Additionally, GSEE emphasized that "it will continue fighting so that our country does not become involved in the United States' belligerent plans regarding Iraq and that the illegal occupation of that country is terminated."

    Former Greek javelin champion Sofia Sakorafa, also present at the press conference, said that during the Olympic Games opening ceremony, the entire global community celebrated life, love, civilization and peace. Sakorafa called the presence of representatives of the new order "provocative," adding that people must fight for the future they desire.

    [07] Park of Greek Culture

    Athens, 26/8/2004 (ANA)

    The district of Attiki, hosting various events during the 2004 Olympic Games, is organizing a cultural night on Friday as part of its participation in the program "Park of Greek Culture", operating very successfully at the Pedion tou Areos, in Athens.

    Friday's special program includes traditional Greek dance and song while spectators will have the chance to taste local delicacies.

    The "Park of Greek Culture" opened on 12 August, eve of the Games and will run until Sunday 29th August when the Games finish.

    Hundreds of cultural events take place throughout the Greek capital as part of celebrations for the Olympic Games during which groups from all participating countries can perform to give their audiences a taste of their culture.

    [08] Queen Sofia of Spain tours MPC, speaks of 'fantastic' days during Olympiad

    Athens, 26/8/2004 (ANA)

    Queen Sofia of Spain, a member of Greece's former royal family who was born and grew up in Greece, astonished journalists covering the Olympic Games when she suddenly dropped into the bar of the Main Press Centre (MPC) on Tuesday evening and casually asked for a glass of lemonade.

    Queen Sofia had earlier been taken on a two-hour tour of the press centre.

    "We are living through fantastic days," the Spanish royal told members of the media. The Queen of Spain arrived in Greece with her daughters, the Infanta Elena and Infanta Cristina, one day before the start of the Olympic Games and will stay until they are finished.

    [09] Final push for Thessaloniki's bid to host 2008 Expo presented on sidelines of Athens Games

    Athens, 26/8/2004 (ANA)

    The northern Greek city of Thessaloniki's ambitious bid to host the 2008 Expo was presented Wednesday on the sidelines of the ongoing Athens Olympics, as the smooth-running Games offered the best opportunity yet to highlight the host-country's ability to successfully pull-off massive international events.

    Revolving around the theme of 'Terra Mater' and the triptych "Knowledge of the Earth, Agriculture, Nutrition', Thessaloniki 2008 officials outlined their plans and preparations for the Expo before reporters and practically all of the district's political leadership. Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city, the capital of the Macedonia's province and the most significant port in the southern Balkans region, annually hosts the area's largest trade exhibition (the Thessaloniki International Fair). It also hosted the Cultural Capital of Europe series of events in 1997, while the 2003 EU summit convened in the verdant holiday region of nearby Halkidiki prefecture.

    Among others, members of the city's bid steering committee, led by Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsonis, emphasized that the Greek government backs and financially guarantees the organization of the endeavor.

    Zaragoza in Spain and Trieste, Italy are the other contenders for the 2008 Expo. A decision by the Paris-based international expo committee is expected in December.

    [10] Hospital records of Kenteris/Thanou sent to prosecutor

    Athens, 26/8/2004 (ANA)

    Prosecutors Spyros Mouzakitis and Athina Theodoropoulou - who are investigating the case of Greek Olympians Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou - went to KAT hospital on Wednesday and retrieved the athletes' hospital records, including the announcements released by KAT upon Kenteris' and Thanou's admission.

    At the same time, Public Prosecutor Dimitris Papangelopoulos met with three US prosecutors and, according to sources, discussed the investigation that is under way in the US regarding the company Balco with which Kenteris' and Thanou's coach Christos Tzekos is said to be associated.

    Papangelopoulos has also received the file Deputy Sports Minister George Orfanos sent him regarding a 1 million subsidy which was granted during George Lianis' tenure as Deputy Sports Minister, whose alleged recipient was Tzekos via a sports federation.

    To date, employees of the financial crimes squad (SDOE) and of the drugs regulatory authority EOF have been interviewed within the context of the investigation related to Tzekos' activities.

    [11] PASOK says it will 'expose government's plan to disorientate public opinion'

    Athens, 26/8/2004 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK cadres convened on Wednesday under the chairmanship of party leader George Papandreou to discuss strategy ahead of the PASOK congress slated for January.

    Following the meeting, former minister and head of the party's group on political positions, Costas Skandalidis, said that PASOK on Monday will intensify its activities "by exposing the government's plan to transfer its responsibilities on the backs of the previous governments."

    Also taking part in the coordinating group on political issues were, among others, Parliamentary Group Secretary Dimitris Reppas and parliamentary representative Haris Kastanidis.

    Skandalidis said that in light of the PASOK congress, "there will be a link between the pre-congress procedures and the political context. "We will expose daily the plan of the New Democracy (ND) to disorientate public opinion," he said.

    [12] Kwasniewski visits Polish officers stationed at Megalos Pefkos

    Athens, 26/8/2004 (ANA)

    Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski visited the Artillery School at Megalos Pefkos on Wednesday, in the framework of a working visit to 52 Polish officers stationed there, were he was received by Greek Deputy Minister of National Defense Ioannis Lambropoulos.

    Lambropoulos said that after the September 11th terrorist attacks in the US, "all countries had to review their ideas and thoughts on the issue of security," noting "it has been proven that no country can face terrorism and any similar threat on its own."

    "That is why our country has made a gigantic effort both in terms of human resources and means, spending over 1 billion Euro for the security of the Olympic Games," Lambropoulos said.

    He added that Greece turned to all its allies for assistance, who responded to the call. "The 52 Polish military officers were incorporated along with ours in the BCN forces (against the threat of biological-chemical-nuclear war) and I can assure you of their professionalism and conscientiousness in their duties," Lambropoulos pointed out.

    The Deputy Minister told Kwasniewski that Greece would "never forget this contribution, which strengthens the historical bonds of friendship and co-operation between our two peoples."

    Lambropoulos was accompanied by General Georgios Antonakopoulos, Chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff.

    [13] Lowest bidders to win state tenders under new bill

    Athens, 26/8/2004 (ANA)

    Town Planning, Public Works and Environment Minister George Souflias said he sent a bill to parliament on Wednesday that will legislate a system for state tenders based on the award of contracts to the lowest bidder.

    "This is the government's first major bill to tackle corruption and establish transparency in the public domain," Souflias told reporters.

    The legislation, which was sent to the Technical Chamber of Greece and other trade groups for feedback before being sent to parliament,

    is expected to become law by September 25, he added.

    [14] Public Works Minister unveils priority projects

    Athens, 26/8/2004 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Constantinos Karamanlis on Wednesday met with Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias to discuss various ministry issues and in particular a draft legislation abolishing a so-called "mathematical type" of public works' tenders.

    Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Souflias said that completion of a section in the Athens-Thessaloniki national road was among his priorities. "I hope that everything will go well and if there are no appeals the underwriter of the project could be selected in 2005," the Greek minister said.

    The project is scheduled to be built on an assignment contract along with other projects such as the Patras-Corinth national road.

    Souflias said that a contractor in a project to build an underwater tunnel in Thessaloniki could be selected by next March or April and noted that interested firms would submit their proposals by early September.

    [15] Gov't to simplify red tape for creation of new industries

    Athens, 26/8/2004 (ANA)

    The government on Wednesday announced that it intended to take measures that would simplify bureaucracy for the establishment of new manufacturing industries, slashing the time needed to obtain permits

    The measures will be sent to trade groups for feedback before going to parliament in the form of a bill for a vote by November 15, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas told a news conference.

    Sioufas said the proposals would also be sent to the international Greenpeace environmental pressure group for comment.

    The ministry's proposals aim to reduce the length of time needed to complete an application to 10 days from three to twelve months at present, he added.

    [16] Athens Business Club 2004: Greece again to attempt privatization of Olympic Airlines

    Athens, 26/8/2004 (ANA)

    Greece will again try to sell a majority holding in national carrier Olympic Airlines, hoping to privatize the firm within 2004, chairman Efthymios Papageorgiou said on Wednesday.

    An international tender will be called after the Olympics, and a business plan made, Papageorgiou told the Athens Business Club 2004, created to spur corporate links during the games.

    He also said that a two-year collective labor agreement had been signed with pilots' unions, ensuring jobs.

    "The airline's past has been very traumatic, which hurt its credibility and shook the confidence of customers, shareholders, and particularly representives of the European Union," Papageorgiou said.

    The New Democracy government, which was elected in March this year, has criticized its Panhellenic Socialist Movement predecessor for mismanagement of the ailing airline.

    Olympic's chairman said that he had worked to cut costs and improve services since assuming his post four months ago in an attempt to minimize the damage.

    "For the first time this summer, very attractive offers were available for customers abroad. This greatly helped to increase passenger movement, which totalled 1,500,000 over the last three months," Papageorgiou added.

    [17] Greek economy to offer major investment opportunities if promised structural changes are made, ACCI president tells int'l press

    Athens, 26/8/2004 (ANA)

    The Greek economy can offer major investment opportunities in the coming years, depending on the extent of the structural changes the government will proceed with, as it has pledged, Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) president Drakoulis Fountoukakos said Wednesday, noting that finance minister George Alogoskoufis had earlier in the week reaffirmed the commitment while addressing the business community.

    Speaking to international reporters covering the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, at an ACCI (EBEA, in Greek) event at the Zappeion Press Centre, Drakoulis said that a country capable of organizing such a major endeavor as the Olympic Games in the "impeccable and smooth" manner it has done, was also capable of attracting and hosting important foreign investments.

    Growth, he said, will be spurred by the streamlining of bureaucratic procedures, reduction of business taxation, and proper utilization of the Olympic facilities after the Games.

    Fountoukakos said the use of the major sport infrastructure works completed for the Games was expected to afford very important opportunities for investment after the Games, and the Olympic Estate S.A., the body set up for the post-Games management of the facilities, was in the process of preparing a strategic plan for the development of this infrastructure, which can provide considerable new opportunities for growth.

    At the same time, the government was accelerating action for the absorption and utilization of the 25 billion EU earmarked for Greece for the period 2000-2006 from the EU structural funds under the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF), of which only one-fourth has been absorbed to date.

    Consequently, he added, investments in major infrastructure works, in education, the information society, research and technology, as well as other sectors, were expected to accelerate, and spur an increase in the rate of growth and give rise to new jobs.

    In addition, Fountoukakos continued, the government has also pledged to advance a "considerable and bold" change involving private funding not only of infrastructure works but also of social services, including schools and hospitals.

    Predicting that the self-funding system was becoming the rule-of-thumb in not only major public works but also smaller-scale projects as well, Fountoukakos said that procedures for the allocation of new large self-funded works, with an overall budget of 8 billion euro, have already been planned, including six large highways estimated at nearly 5 billion euro, the underwater tunnel of Thessaloniki, budgeted at 300 million euro, and the extension of the Athens metro network, budgeted at 2.5 billion euro.

    International experience has shown that, with a good institutional framework, the cooperation between public and private sector boosts the market and provides effective solutions to the problems of financial development and social welfare.

    Particularly in Greece, he added, the private funding of infrastructure works will not only reduce the "production gap" after the completion of the Olympic works in 2004, but will in fact exceed it, producing high development rates in the coming years, while at the same time providing substantial opportunities for attracting foreign and domestic investments.

    Another step in that direction, according to the Chamber president, was the new government's commitment to reduce the taxable factors for business to 25 percent from the present 35 percent, in a new development bill aimed at attracting foreign investments.

    Fountoukakos said he was quite optimistic overall since, as a result of the new environment evolving, the potential for development of the Greek economy will continue to be great and, if the government proceeded with the implementation of programs for liberalization of the market and daring privatizations, "Greece is expected to develop with impressive rates in the following years".

    [18] Stocks rise, led by banks

    Athens, 26/8/2004 (ANA)

    Stocks finished higher for the third straight session with players buying heavily into blue chip banks, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed just off the day's high at 2,282.26 points, showing a rise of 1.08 percent. Turnover was 88.5 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.46 percent up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.10 percent higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.39 percent up.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 174 to 85 with 88 remaining unchanged.

    [19] FIFA wants big fan turnout at Olympic football finals; Blatter says Greece could hold Euro championship

    Athens, 26/8/2004 (ANA)

    FIFA's leadership on Wednesday repeatedly called on local fans to fill the stadiums for the upcoming men's and women's Olympic football finals and bronze medal matches, whereas a possible bid for the Euro 2012 tournament was brought up on a handful of occasions.

    Powerful FIFA President and IOC member Joseph Sepp Blatter stressed that any country successfully organizing Olympic Games can certainly host the European football championships or even a World Cup.

    Nevertheless, the chief of the Greek football federation (EPO), Vassilis Gagatsis, said only a good fan turnout for the four remaining Olympic matches will convince the world's soccer bodies that Greece can host major tournaments. The biggest challenge, however, will come on Saturday morning, when the men's final between Argentina and Paraguay is scheduled at the main Olympic stadium (OAKA) at 10 a.m. - or early morning in South America.

    Beyond the low fan turnout at some games, especially at the women's matches, both Blatter and FIFA vice-president Issa Hayatou said the 2004 Olympic football tournament - held in a total of five Greek cities -- was excellent in terms of organization and the quality of play. Hayatou is also the chairman of the organizing committee for the 2004 Olympic football tournaments.

    "I would like to thank Greece and ATHOC (the organizing committee) for their hospitality. We do appreciate the organizational work done. It was quite difficult in terms of logistics and security, for the well-known reasons, but everything worked very well," Blatter said during a press conference held at an Athens hotel near the seaside venues.

    Moreover, Blatter appeared confident of football's standing at future Olympic Games despite grumblings of low fan turnout at some of the 2004 matches, saying that the world's most popular sport will come in second, behind athletics, in terms of ticket sales - estimated by ATHOC to reach the 500,000-mark for the 2004 Games.

    Finally, Blatter said 192 doping checks have been made on football players at the Athens Games, while he termed FIFA's anti-doping control "very efficient".

    Although both Greek teams were eliminated early on, a Greek element during the men's final will come in the form of top referee Kyros Vassaras, who will call the match.

    [20] Patriarch Vartholomeos leads service on island of Imvros

    ISTANBUL 26/8/2004 (ANA A. Kourkoulas)

    Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Wednesday praised the improved climate in relations between Greece and Turkey in his sermon after leading the service at the Dormition of the Virgin Church at Agioi Theodori on Imvros, a small Aegean island that is part of Turkey.

    "We should be grateful to God because he ensured that there would be a change in matters, that there would be another atmosphere that is more comfortable, freer, so there is no longer the fear that shadowed our affairs a few years ago," the Patriarch said.

    He also praised the role played by Greece's Ambassador to Ankara, Mihalis Christidis, in helping firmly establish this new state of affairs in Greek-Turkish relations.

    "I want to thank him, not so much for his visit, but for his work once again as ambassador to Ankara to promote and cultivate better relations between the two neighboring and allied nations, Greece and Turkey, as the advisor of the Greek Embassy in Ankara," Vartholomeos said.

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