|Sunday, 25 October 2020|
Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 04-08-02
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 ELEVEN DAYS BEFORE THE ATHENS OLYMPICSAthens, 2 August 2004 (13:24 UTC+2)
Eleven days are left before the formal opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Athens on Friday, August 13 and everything appears to be ready for the Olympics across the country.
The foreign athletes have already begun arriving at the Olympic Village.
For the moment, no problems have been recorded at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, while part of the US Olympic mission has arrived.
Foreign athletes and journalists made very positive comments on the Olympic Games in Athens.
Soon, the first politicians, artists and other celebrities will start arriving to watch the games.
A big demand for Olympic Games tickets is being recorded, while the additional tickets issued for the opening and closing ceremonies have been sold out.
 ATHENS LIVES IN OLYMPIC GAMES' PACEAthens, 2 August 2004 (13:54 UTC+2)
Everyday life in Athens has entered an Olympic Games' pace. The Olympic Games lanes have been put in effect since yesterday serving only the accredited vehicles.
Starting today, the Olympic schedule for shops, museums, banks and mass transportation will be in effect.
Shops will be open from 9am to 9pm except on Saturdays when they will be open from 9am until 6pm.
The railway linking the Athens suburbs and the tram will run on a 24hour basis, while the rest mass transportation means will interrupt their service from 2am until 5am.
Banks in downtown Athens will be open from 8am until 8pm.
 THE OLDEST MEMBER OF THE GREEK OLYMPIC TEAM COMES FROM THESSALONIKIThessaloniki, 2 August 2004 (18:35 UTC+2)
Christos Garefis and Iordanis Paschalidis are the athletes from Thessaloniki who will represent Greece in the Athens Olympic Games claiming a place among the winners in sailing.
The two athletes are in the catamaran-tornado category that was included in the Olympic sports in 1976. It is the Formula 1 of the sea and the speed of the participating boats exceeds 55 kilometers per hour.
For the record, Christos Garefis, 50, is the oldest member of the Greek Olympic team.
The sponsors of the two athletes are the Municipality of Thessaloniki, the Prefecture of Thessaloniki and EXPO 2008.
 THE OLYMPIC TORCH AT THE BALCONY OF THE AEGEANAthens, 2 August 2004 (18:20 UTC+2)
At 8 o'clock this morning the Olympic Flame, continuing its journey on Greek soil, bid Skiathos farewell. Half an hour later it landed in an Airforce Chinook helicopter on the 'balcony of the Aegean', Kymi.
The celebrations for the reception of the Olympic Flame at the first stop in today's journey to Evvoia began last night with traditional dancing and songs by the dance groups of Kymi and Psachnon.
The city's inhabitants prepared a warm welcome, coming out into the streets in the morning with flowers and Greek flags in their hands. Children from six to twelve years old had formed Olympic rings in front of the statue of Giorgos Papanikolaou, in the main Square, while 90 'priestesses' welcomed the Flame with olive branches, or waving blue and white flags.
The Olympic altar was lit by Greek weightlifter Christos Spyrou, who believes that competing in the land where the Olympic Games were inspired and organized is a unique event not only for Greek athletes, but for the athletes of the whole world. My city honors me by selecting me to light the altar, he said. I was given a unique chance to touch the Olympic Flame.
The mayor of Kymi, Dimitris Thomas, talked about the messages that the Flame sends to the whole world: We welcome the best-known and most widely accepted symbol in the world of peace between nations. The Olympic Flame embraces all nations and peoples, all social classes and groups. It embraces even those who have the greatest differences between them, he said.
The Flame will go from Kymi to Aliveri, passing through the villages of the area, and from Aliveri to Amarynthos. It will arrive in Chalkida this evening and stay for the night. After the lighting of the altar in the capital of Evvoia, there will be a concert by Vassilis Papakonstantinou. He has donated his services to the cultural program organized by ATHENS 2004 at all locations where the Flame halts.
In today's leg, the Olympic Flame will travel 91 km with a total of 240 Torchbearers participating.
 LOSSES IN THE ASEAthens, 2 August 2004 (16:48 UTC+2)
Losses were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index dropped to -0.43% at 2309.24 points, while the volume of transactions was small at 82.8 million euros.
Of the stocks trading today, 53 had gains and 248 had losses, while the value of 102 stocks remained unchanged.
 BALKAN MAYORS WILL BE IN THESSALONIKI FOR THE OLYMPIC GAMESThessaloniki, 2 August 2004 (15:44 UTC+2)
The Balkan dimension of the Olympic Games will be displayed by the presence of tens of mayors from the largest Balkan cities in the opening of the Olympic football tournament in Thessaloniki.
Balkan mayors will be watching the football game between the Greek and the North Korean Olympic teams in Kaftantzoglion Stadium on August 11.
The initiative belongs to Thessaloniki Mayor Vasilis Papageorgopoulos who invited the mayors to attend the informal opening of the Olympic Games and experience their magic from up close.
Among them, will be mayors from Serbia-Montenegro, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Albania and FYROM.
 MOST OF THE GREEK FLEET WILL BE OUT IN THE AEGEAN SEAAthens, 2 August 2004 (15:31 UTC+2)
Most of the Greek Navy fleet will be out in the Aegean Sea starting tomorrow within the framework of the participation of the Greek armed forces in the security operation on the occasion of the Olympic Games.
Apart from the Greek warships, the P-3A Orion four-engine aircraft will also be on patrol or at a high operational readiness state, while two units of the remote controlled Exoset missiles will also be in a state of readiness.
According to the Athens newspaper Apogevmatini, the warships of NATO's permanent Naval Force in the Mediterranean will patrol south of Crete and in the Aegean Sea.
 THE OLYMPIC FLAME SPENT THE NIGHT IN SKIATHOSSkiathos, 2 August 2004 (15:03 UTC+2)
In Papadiamantis' isle of Skiathos, the Olympic Flame rested last night under the moonlight. The Sunday course of the Flame was complicated and went through the Aghialou vineyards and the fir-trees of Evrytania to reach the Northern Sporades.
The residents of Skiathos and the tourists spending their holidays there came out to the flag-filled streets to applaud the Torchbearers. "We embrace with excitement and emotion the Olympic Flame into our home. We experience, with all our heart, the happiness that it spreads, and we feel the honor that it offers us and we respectfully bow to its glory. Our island, welcomes, accommodates and transfers the divine worth that this Flame represents", said Mayor, Kyriakos Plomaridis. The Olympic altar was lit by gymnast Panagiotis Paparizos, a person who has significantly contributed to the development of sport on the island. "It is a blessing to remember the past of an ideal", he said. "It is an honor to be part of its present. Past and present now become a celebration, a Flame you hold within your hands, a Flame that moves the world".
Penny Mikelopoulou, ATHENS 2004 Torch Relay Manager, thanked all who had contributed to the success of the effort. "We would like to thank the municipal authorities, the army and the security authorities, our sponsors, and most of all, all who welcomed us so spontaneously and applauded the Torchbearers". The ceremony was completed with a concert by Lavrendis Machairitsas and Christos Thivaios, who are donating their services to the cultural program of the Torch Relay.
The first destination of the day, after a brief stop occurred between Agialos and Belestinos, was Stylida. There popular singer Giorgos Tsalikis said that he was touched to have the honor of lighting the altar. "Stylida is one Flame". Read the huge poster that the Municipality had placed where the ceremony took place. And it was indeed true. For the people of the city, according to Mayor, Aleka Karagiorgou, the arrival of the Flame had great significance. "We are a Municipality trying to rediscover its identity, to relive the beauty of nature, to stand before the future of its children with greater expectations". In Stylida, the Municipal authority made awards to Kostas Triandafyllou and Giorgos Paparoupas for their success in entering for the Paralympics and for other competitions for persons with disabilities. In the evening, the Municipality organized a concert by Mimis Plessas with the collaboration of Giorgos Tsalikis.
In the afternoon, the Flame kindled the Olympic altar in the castle of Lamia. There the Flame was welcomed by the philharmonic band of the Municipality, while the Lykeio Ellinidon presented traditional dances. Forty eight-year-old Romaios Roumeliotis, who lit the altar, has his own story to tell: he was an Engineer officer. When his unit was called to defuse some explosives, as company commander he preferred to go himself, instead of assigning another soldier. He lost his left arm in this operation, since when he has been on the retired list. An economist by profession, he decided to involve himself with the championship when Greece was awarded the Olympic Games. "I became an athlete in my declining years", he laughs. At last year's world championships in New Zealand he won the bronze medal for archery. "I feel great satisfaction that I am carrying the light, a global symbol, and kindling the Olympic altar in my own country. My wish is that the Olympic Flame will bring the wisdom and goodness that our world so much needs''. Lamia's mayor Giorgos Kotronias said, "Lamia, queen of the Trachiniae and daughter of Poseidon, crowns her Torchbearers. We welcome the Olympic Flame in Lamia, region of myth and culture, region of the Amphiktonians, of Thermoplyae, of Diakos, and of historical continuity".
In Lamia, the delegation with the Flame took a Chinook army helicopter for Karpenisi, where the Torchbearers were greeted by the local cultural association performing dances of central Greece in folk dress. The welcome ceremony included music performed by Anna Bithikotsi with works by Ritsos and Seferis that had been performed by her father Grigoris Bithikotsis. The mayor of Karpenisi, Vasilis Karabas, greeted the Flame with the words: "Evrytania of the ages, Evrytania of the future, and her capital Karpenisi, are proud and honored to host the light of hope, peace, brotherhood, and civilisation".
Seventeen-year-old swimmer Dionysis Pappas kindled the Olympic altar on his native heath. "I thank my city", he said, "for giving me the opportunity of holding the most powerful symbol of peace and friendship".
In the evening, the Torch arrived in Skopelos, the greenest isle of the Mediterranean, where the dark green of the pines mingles with the light green of the sea. Children in folk dress, holding crowns of bay and waving flags, formed a chain for the Torchbearers to break through. The altar was kindled by yachtsman Giorgos Karagiorgos, and among those present was alternate Minister of Culture Fani Palli-Petralia. Dozens of doves were released into the air as the altar was lit. Dancers of Skopelos lured bystanders into the steps of the 'ballos' and 'syrtos'. Mayor Giorgos Pachis said: "It is with great happiness and emotion that we greet the Olympic Torch, symbol of peace and friendship. May it always light our hearts".
 NINE DAYS BEFORE THE FIRST OLYMPIC FOOTBALL GAME IN THESSALONIKIThessaloniki, 2 August 2004 (14:37 UTC+2)
Thessaloniki declares ready to host the first Olympic football game two days before the formal opening of the Olympic Games in Athens.
The police operational plans aim at keeping Thessaloniki open to its residents and allowing the people to move freely without restrictive measures.
Special permits will be issued for those living or working inside the Kaftantzoglion Stadium zone where the Olympic football games will take place.