Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-09-06
NEWS IN ENGLISH
Athens, Greece, 06/09/1997 (ANA)
- Greece celebrates as Athens picked to host 2004 Olympics
- Prime Minister welcomes IOC decision
- Athens' Olympic bid committee rejoices
- Opposition reactions
- Reactions from abroad
- Economy Minister reassures northern Greek businesses
- Foreign Exchange
NEWS IN DETAIL
Greece celebrates as Athens picked to host 2004 Olympics
A jubilant Greek capital celebrated the International Olympic Committee's
(IOC) decision yesterday to award the hosting of the 2004 Olympic Games to
Athens won in the final round with 66 votes, out of a total of 107. Rome
lagged behind with 41 votes.
As soon as IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch made the announcement in
Lausanne early yesterday evening, members of the delegation broke into
smiles and handshakes all around, as huge television screens showed
reactions around Athens.
In the Greek capital, crowds gathered outside Zappeion Hall, the Athens bid
committee's headquarters, and broke into loud cheers and shouts, as
balloons were released into the air.
Athens bid committee President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, blowing
kisses to IOC members and the audience, joined Athens Mayor Dimitris
Avramopoulos at the signing table with Mr. Samaranch.
"It was a victory for the Olympic ideals and the people of Greece," Ms
A feeling of jubilation was mixed with the sense that Athens' efforts to
win the Olympics bid had finally been justified, followinga bitter loss to
Atlanta for the 1996 Games.
Athens had lost the bid to host the centennial Games of 1996, collecting 35
votes against Atlanta's 51. That loss was felt strongly in Greece because
of the sentimental importance of holding the Games in Athens 100 years
after the first modern Olympic Games were held here in 1896.
Athens seemed to pass a trial run with the World Athletics Championships
early last month, apparently proving that the Greek capital could handle
large international events.
Prime Minister welcomes IOC decision
Athens' victory shows that Greece is able to compete successfully in the
international scene, Mr. Simitis said yesterday after the IOC decision.
Speaking from Thessaloniki, just before inaugurating the international fair,
Mr. Simitis said:
"We won, this shows that Greece can, that we can win in international
competitions if we prepare with seriousness and work in the right
"Greece can (win) in all sectors, not just this one. And this is something
we shall show these two days here in Thessaloniki.
"The Olympic Games are a great opportunity for us to strengthen our
position internationally, project Greek issues, create friendships and
increase our connections with all countries in the world.
"The Olympic Games are an opportunity for this country for economic
projects, economic restoration, for development. They are an opportunity to
show another face, Greece's cultural face and the cultural context that
civilization should have.
"We won because we worked with a goal in mind and we will continue to work
with a goal in mind."
Mr. Simitis was informed of the result by Sports Undersecretary Andreas
Fouras, immediately calling Ms Angelopoulou to congratulate her.
Mr. Simitis and Greece's delegation to Lausanne will hold a news conference
at the Zappeion Hall on Sunday to field questions on Athens' successful bid
to host the 2004 Games.
The delegation is due to arrive in the capital from the Swiss city at 1800-
1830 local time, shortly before the news conference is scheduled to start
at around 1900 local time.
An open celebration for the public will be held at Zappeion later in the
evening. Singers George Dalaras and Haris Alexiou will perform.
President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos yesterday hailed the result
with great satisfaction, saying the decision justified efforts made.
He said that winning the bid signalled the beginning of a seven-year effort
for a successful outcome in 2004.
"We must all work decisively and consistently, coordinating our efforts
under a properly researched programme, for the completion of the necessary
Olympic facilities and the exemplary preparation of the games. But for our
athletes there is a new period of intense preparation that will give them
the ability to prove themselves in the Athens Olympics. The bid committee
deserves congratulations for the success," the president's message
Athens' Olympic bid committee rejoices
On her part, Ms Angelopoulos-Daskalaki called on bid competitors to support
Greece in hosting the Games and thanked the IOC for its support.
"We respect and admire our competitors and call on them to support our
effort. It was a victory for the Olympic ideals and the people of Greece. I
want to thank the IOC for the trust it showed Greece. We are giving the
world an ancient message: Come and compete in peace. Please come and
compete in Greece. I also want to thank Prime Minister Costas Simitis for
the government's active and constant support in our efforts, and all Greek
parties, which supported us wholeheartedly in our efforts. I also want to
thank the Greek people because it believed in the Olympic Games,"
Ms Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said at a press conference following the
Mr. Fouras also expressed his congratulations to the president of the bid
Alternate Foreign Minister George Papandreou expressed his thanks to the
IOC "for the honour it gave us in awarding us the bid for the Olympic Games
of 2004. Not only is it an honour, but a great responsibility. We
understand this and will try to show t o the world the Olympic spirit and
the Greek spirit".
"As mayor of Athens, the city of the Olympic Games of 2004, I express on
behalf of my city my warm thanks and congratulations to those who
contributed to this victory," Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos said.
The president of the Greek Olympic Committee and IOC delegate Lambis
Nikolaou said the bid "brought us very close to other competitors and
especially with our friends, the Italians. I want to thank the Greek people,
and express satisfaction because I be lieve that Athens won the Olympic
Games after eight years of hard work".
Political party leaders joined in the congratulations for Athens' victory,
noting the symbolic importance of "the return of the Games to Greece", as
they termed it, and urging the government and officials to give a fresh
breath to the institution that has been criticised for having become
Today's decision is historical for Athens, Greece and all Greeks,
Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis said in his message.
"Regardless of each one's stance up to now on the Athens bid and the
reservations expressed, we are now all obliged to help towards the success
of this great effort. The Olympic Games of 2004, the Athens Olympic Games,
must remain in history as the best of all games," he added.
Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis said in his
message that the decision of the IOC to give the Games to Athens "gives
rise to feelings of honour, great joy but also great sense of responsibility".
He said that this was a great challenge that Greece had to win, and it was
Greece's obligation from now on to avoid the indolence that characterises
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said the Greek people would have cause
to be truly proud for the 2004 Games only if they become an arena to fight
the commercial nature of the games and a starting point for upgrading
sports in Greece.
The Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) said it would
intervene with initiatives and proposals "as a force of checks and
criticism to restrict negative repercussions on the economy, the environment
and regional develoment".
The objections Synaspismos had to Athens' bid had been raised before after
"assessing the adverse repercussions that this choice could hold" and noted
that "if all citizens and Greek government agencies are activated, they may
succeed in restricting the se repercussions", the party said.
Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) Dimitris Tsovolas welcomed the Olympic
Games and expressed his certainty about their success.
Political Spring leader Antonis Samaras said that the historic decision of
the return of the Olympic Games to Greece gives them a grandeur that only
their birth country could give them.
Reactions from abroad
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, meanwhile, expressed the "joy on
behalf of the Italian government and my country for the selection (of
Athens) following a strong and honest competition".
He added, "With special affection, we accept the choice of the capital of a
friendly Mediterranean nation to celebrate the ideals of Olympic Games
which were born on Greek soil, in the dawn of our civilisation".
French PresidentJacques Chirac sent "his warmest congratulations" to his
Greek counterpart Kostis Stephanopoulos , stressing that the Games are
returning to their homeland.
"Certainly, with this decision the IOC bestowed Greece the befitting honour
to "the country of the Olympic spirit".
Athens' victory in the race to host the 2004 Olympic Games earned several
positive remarks by its rivals in the five-city contest, including the
chairman of Italy's Olympic Committee (CONI) and IOC delegate Mario
Pescante, who said the race for the 2004 G ames was "won by the best
Mr. Pescante said Athens' victory was due to many reasons, but mainly due
to the city's excellent sports installations. However, he added that he
believed "sentimental reasons also played a major factor, since the IOC
memebers had refused to give Athens the 1996 Games."
The Italian official also congratulated the Greek delegation at Lausanne
for its work.
According to an AFP dispatch from Abidjan, South African President Nelson
Mandela last night stated that Athens deserved to be chosen as host city
for the 2004 Olympic Games.
Speaking to reporters during a stop-over in the Ivory Coast, on his way to
South Africa from Lausanne, where he supported his country's candidacy, Mr.
Mandela congratulated Athens on its victory.
Economy Minister reassures northern Greek businesses
National Economy Minister Yannos Papantoniou reassured business circles in
Thessaloniki today that the 2004 Olympic Games to be held in Athens would
not be at the expense of major projects scheduled for northern Greece.
The International Olympic Committee last night in Lausanne voted Athens as
the city which will stage the 2004 Olympiad.
"This does not in any way change the great emphasis and priority the
government has put on northern Greece and Thessaloniki," said the minister,
speaking at the general assembly of the Central Union of Chambers of
Commerce and Industry.
In particular, priority was being given to Macedonia, Thrace and Epirus
with regard to projects to be carried out within the framework of the third
Community Support Framework, he said.
Referring to the need for more competitiveness and productivity, Mr.
Papantoniou called on Greek business owners to proceed with mergers, and
"to put aside Greek egotism".
He predicted that interest rates would drop to around seven to eight
percent over the next two years.
"The idea of small investments," he said, "is over for our neighbouring
countries. It is now time for major investments in infrastructure projects
such as transport, telecommunications and energy."
The national economy ministry, he said, was preparing a new "model" for
economic transactions in the Balkans based on an orientation towards
consortiums, whether between Greek businesses or with foreign firms.
He called for the support of the country's banks and other financial
institutions, saying that within the next few months the ministry would be
stepping up cooperation and coordination with banks.
Sunny weather is forecast for western Greece, Thrace, the eastern Aegean
islands and Dodecanese islands with light cloud seen elsewhere. Winds
northerly, moderate to strong in most parts of the country with gale force
winds in the Aegean. The forecast for Athens is mainly sunny weather with
temperatures ranging from 18C to 28C. Thessaloniki will be overcast with
periods of sunshine. Temperatures should range from 17C to 26C.
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