Athens boss stays at helm

Athens 2004 boss Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki remained at the helm of her organising committee today, putting an end to reports she was planning to resign because of widespread disagreements with the government.

Athens 2004 boss Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki remained at the helm of her organising committee today, putting an end to reports she was planning to resign because of widespread disagreements with the government.

After a marathon meeting with Premier Costas Simitis, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki insisted her only concern was for Greece to be prepared for the Olympics.

But she refused to discuss details of her two-hour meeting with Simitis, which came amid reports that she was ready to abandon her post because of frustration with official bureaucracy.

"There is no misunderstanding" with the government, she told reporters after the meeting. There was no comment from the premier or any government official on the talks.

"As long as the preparations continue for the Athens Olympic Games, I will be happy. Not me, but all the people who are working," she said.

Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and her five-member executive board will meet with Simitis and key Olympics ministers on Tuesday to discuss the state of Athens' preparations ahead of a Nov. 22 inspection visit by the International Olympic Committee.

A key issue for discussion is the international tender for selecting the organization that will undertake the broadcasting of the 2004 Games. The tender entered its final stage Monday, and the IOC wants an agreement by month's end.

But Angelopoulos-Daskalaki reportedly has problems with various ministers tasked to help organize the games, especially the Cabinet member in charge of constructing five venues.

Greece has said the projects will be ready by May 2004, but the IOC wants them ready by the end of 2003. About 30 percent of the facilities still need to be built.

Angelopoulos-Daskalaki refused to answer questions about reports that she and the IOC were dissatisfied with the government's preparations. She also would not comment on possible changes in the Athens Organizing Committee which she heads.

"I will not give you any more answers. I said we are continuing our work. We are continuing our work, and we have much work," she said. "All the changes that must be made between now and the games will be made, as happens in every country."

But the length of the meeting indicated that Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and Simitis were trying to defuse the latest in a series of crises that have plagued embattled organizers this year.

The problems created an air of chaos around Greece's preparations for the games, and rekindled questions about Athens' ability to host the event.

Earlier this year, IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch had warned delays in preparation were endangering the games. Simitis then appointed Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who led the bid team, to bring order back to the organisation.

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