- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 25, 2001

ATHENS, Greece (AP) With Athens again facing an IOC inspection, the chief organizer of the 2004 Olympics pressed the government yesterday to work harder and faster to start long-delayed construction projects.
Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki demanded the government stick to promises it made when Greece was awarded the Games in 1997 and deliver stadiums, roads and other projects on time.
Her comments echo a familiar clash in Athens: organizers and IOC officials frustrated with Greek government inertia.
"What I need, I need an infrastructure. This is not my responsibility," Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said in an interview. "We will do our best to facilitate the state … We urge them to be just as eager as us to complete this project on time."
An IOC inspection team led by the new overseer of the Athens Games, Denis Oswald, starts a three-day visit tomorrow. It is the final IOC review before Athens hits the 1,000-day threshold and the final stretch before the start of the Games in August 2004.
Terrorism will be a key issue during Oswald's trip, and organizers say they are prepared to take a new look at their $600 million security plan.
Oswald, the Swiss head of the world rowing federation, said the terror attacks against the United States make it necessary to reassess all security provisions for the Games, including extra patrols to guard against possible aerial strikes.
Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said that "from the first minute, security was our priority because we know that Greece has had a problem." She described the existing plan as just "the beginning."
Greece is home to the elusive November 17 terrorist group that has killed 22 people, including four Americans, since 1975. None of its members has been arrested.
Construction delays, however, are expected to monopolize discussions among the IOC inspectors, organizers and the government.
Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said the IOC and Athens organizers "are both concerned if a part of the project, even if a small part, cannot go on schedule."
"It takes a country, not just a village. It takes a country to organize the Games," she said.
Delays have plagued Athens since the beginning, with little or no work done until the IOC warned Greece last year that poor preparations were endangering the Games. Premier Costas Simitis took personal control and brought in Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who led Athens' bid team.
But Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and her organizing committee kept running afoul of bureaucracy, red tape and apparent infighting among cabinet members involved with Olympic construction projects.
A political crisis in the governing Socialist party slowed preparations to a crawl during the summer. An emergency convention in mid-October will decide whether Simitis will remain head of the party. Defeat could lead to his resignation as premier and throw the government into chaos at a time when the Olympic projects should be well under way.
The public-works minister in charge of numerous Olympic projects already has said he will step down.
Simitis admitted last week that there were delays in construction projects and called on his ministers to ensure that deadlines are kept, even if construction crews have to work harder. Angelopoulos-Daskalaki did not rule out that some sports venues may have to be made of prefabricated materials a move that could anger critics who feel Athens' "Olympic legacy" is in danger.
"I go back to the contract of the city with the IOC. As we all remember, the government at that time guaranteed the delivery of many projects … with the promise that all these projects will be delivered on time," Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said. "The government actually for the first time accepted delays about the delivery of the projects, at the same time the prime minister guaranteed … [they] will be delivered on time."

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