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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 04-07-30

Macedonian Press Agency: Brief News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Macedonian Press Agency at and




    Athens, 30 July 2004 (13:58 UTC+2)

    An athlete from Kazakstan is the first to arrive at the Olympic Village today, two weeks before the opening of the games.

    The Greek armed forces and weapons systems at sea, land and air have been placed in operational readiness for the safety of the Olympic Games and in order to be able to face the likelihood of a terrorist attack and the asymmetrical threats.

    The measures adopted are of a precautionary nature, stated Minister of Defense Spilios Spiliotopoulos.

    Anti-aircraft rocket batteries deployed in several military bases in the wider Athens region and around the Olympic Games' facilities constitute part of the Olympic anti-aircraft umbrella that has opened to avert the likelihood of a suicide attack with an airplane during the Olympic Games in Athens. The anti-aircraft umbrella is made up of anti-aircraft rocket batteries, NATO's AWACS as well as the anti-aircraft systems of the US and other warships that will patrol in the sea region off the coasts of the prefecture of Attiki.

    Meanwhile, the state police, the Fire Department, the Coast Guard and the municipal police will be used in the security measures for safe Olympic Games within the framework of the 250 million euro Ministry of Public Order security plan.

    The electronic system C4I is already in operation at the Olympic Security Center. The cameras on board the Zeppelin airship and in the streets of Athens as well as the satellite communications systems are linked with the C41 security system.

    In addition, the Police and Fire Department have received van-type small trucks that will be used as mobile command units.


    Athens, 30 July 2004 (14:32 UTC+2)

    Two more Olympic projects are ready in Athens and have already opened for the public.

    They are the railway linking the Athens suburbs and the Athens Metro expansion to Athens' "Eleftherios Venizelos" International Airport linking the center of Athens with the airport.

    The formal inauguration ceremony of the two projects took place this morning in the presence of Transportation and Telecommunications Minister Michalis Liapis.


    Athens, 30 July 2004 (17:23 UTC+2)

    A record number of foreign dignitaries are expected to watch the Athens Olympic Games given the fact that the number of applications by personalities from around the world is unprecedented.

    According to the Athens newspaper Apogevmatini, some of the foreign politicians who will come to Athens to watch the Games will be former US President George Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Jacques Chirac, Romanian President Ion Iliescu, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the French Finance Minister, new European Commission President Jose Manuel Durao Baroso and former FRG Foreign Minister Mr. Gensher

    Also, present will be former king of Greece Konstantinos, who is a member of the International Olympic Committee, with all his family, Prince Charles and Belgian crown prince Philip with Princess Matilde.

    The games will attend the Mayors of New York, Rome, Paris, London and Istanbul invited by Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni.

    Among the Hollywood stars to watch the games will be Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Sylvester Stalone, Tom Hanks and film director Steven Spielberg. World famous singer Madonna will be in Greece as the guest of one of the Olympic Games sponsors.


    Athens, 30 July 2004 (17:13 UTC+2)

    Losses were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index dropped to -1.38% at 2319.30 points, while the volume of transactions was at 136.7 million euros.

    Of the stocks trading today, 87 had gains and 205 had losses, while the value of 110 stocks remained unchanged.


    Ioannina, 30 July 2004 (15:46 UTC+2)

    Today, the Flame travels to Thessaly, central Greece and it will make stops in Mikro Peristeri and Metsovo, on the way to Kalambaka and the area of Kitiara.

    The Olympic Flame traveled yesterday on the ridge of Pindos, in a course on which history has strewn battlefields and raised war memorials. On the map, the road from Kastoria to Ioannina is a continuous green line. The beauty of the landscapes softens the jagged edges left in memory by the history of an area where place-names have been linked with bloody conflict and sacrifice. The motorcade ran across roads turning in the shadow of the rocks and the trees of Pindos. If the drivers killed their engines for a while they would hear the water of the rivers running. Aoos, Voidomatis, and Sarantaporos run across the ravines. Still, it is a 254-kilometre-long Torch Relay leg, a not inconsiderable course, with Ioannina as its destination and with Eptachori, Konitsa, Kalpaki and Dodoni as way stations.  The Torch was carried by 110 Torchbearers. It was a Torch Relay of sportsmen, as most Torchbearers have been former athletes.

    Yesterday evening, the Flame arrived in Ioannina. The first Torchbearer broke through a human chain formed by children and ran among dancers of the local cultural clubs. The Flame was carried through Dodonis Street and Averof Street, the castle and the banks of the Ioannina Lake to end up at Mavili Square. Athletes from the Ioannina Nautical Club, fishermen, and residents on the isle in the lake switched on the lights of their boats. The color of the waters changed, the lake was illuminated. Local dance groups greeted the last Torchbearers, dancing together, and the band played the Olympic anthem. It was a magnificent ceremony, and the whole town participated in it. Panagiotis Miliotis, lit the Altar. He took part in the 2000 Olympics and will be present in Athens as well. Mayor of Ioannina, Nikos Gontas said Epirus' capital city greets the Flame, celebrating the message of the Olympic spirit, culture and peace. In her address, ATHENS 2004 representative, Penny Mikelopoulou said that even those not visiting Athens in August will be in the stadiums, their heart and soul will be in the stadiums to celebrate the best Olympic Games ever.

    A concert by Nikos Portokaloglou, a volunteer at the Torch Relay cultural program concluded the ceremony.

    The Flame reached the ancient theatre of Dodoni of the core hubs of the Greek civilization, at dusk. The theatre re-opened after six years, only to greet the Flame. Down a winding country track, the procession reached the archaeological site. It was an imposing reception but at the same time it reflected the classical Greek moderation. Pantelis Kolokas, an Olympic Education teacher was the Last Torchbearer, entering the ancient theatre in the company of sixty children, with olive-tree branches in hand. They were greeted by 35 priestesses. The High Priestess crowned the Torchbearer who then lit the Olympic altar. Writer, Eleftheria Tzala read a poem of hers about the Dodoni scenery and a twelve year-old girl recited another, with Greece and the Olympic Games as the main theme. The ancient theatre was filled with the classical music of a string quartet, as the priestesses pelted spectators with rose petals. Mayor of Dodoni, Dimitris Themelis demanded that restoration of the theatre - a historic hub of culture - must be completed.

    Eptachori in Kastoria was the Flame's last stop in Macedonia. It arrived there yesterday afternoon, to be received by ten priestesses who declaimed the Hymn to Apollo and boys dressed as Hellanodikes - the competition judges of antiquity - who arranged themselves in a circle around the Altar. Folk dancing by local ensembles gave local color to the welcome ceremony.  Sixteen-year old Giorgos Kassandros, who was selected to light the Cauldron, proclaimed that this was the best moment of his life: "This is a unique experience, a wonderful surprise that received in great joy. This gives me strength in pursuing my goal, which is to enter the University". Mayor Zois Gakis said: "the Flame of Athens has united the five continents in the name of peace and peoples' friendship".

    The cavalcade now climbed to Konitsa. The children of the town greeted the Flame in local costume, yet they were not alone: another 120 children from Palestine, guests at Konitsa, took part in the reception, the singing and the celebration spirit. Konitsa received the Flame with traditional songs of welcome and the locals, who came out to the streets to see their Torchbearers, swarming into the courtyard of the Town Hall. After the Relay's departure, the festivities concluded with a live performance by Spyros Polykandriotis' folk band and singers from Palestine.

    "Konitsa sends the world its own message of peace, by participating in the Relay-chain", said mayor, Prodromos Hadjiefraimidis. The cauldron was lit by kayak champion Alexandros Nikolopoulos, who said: "This is the least I can do for our Games. It was a great honor and an unforgettable moment".

    To Kalpaki, yet another town with a history of battles and struggle, the Flame brought the message of peace. The town's mayor said: "the Flame has arrived in a place that symbolizes the triumph and perseverance of the Greek spirit".

    Earlier, 68-year-old Themistoklis Solopoulos, former Marathon Race runner, lit the Olympic cauldron. Themistoklis, who still runs the Marathon, said: "the lighting and carrying of the Flame is past of our effort to reach goodness and excellence; to perfect body, spirit and soul, to excel as human beings. It is a noble effort we should all pursue".

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