Greek pledge over Olympic funds

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The Independent Online

The Greek government promised Wednesday to cover any extra costs for the Olympic organising committee in another apparent sign of an escalating budget for the 2004 Games.

"The additional funds will be covered by the Greek state," said government spokesman Tilemahos Hitiris following a meeting between Premier Costas Simitis and top finance and Olympic planners.

Bailing out the Olympic organisers could pose another fiscal burden on the government, which is in charge of building most Olympic venues and is reportedly struggling with rising costs.

Greece has already agreed to a 1.5 billion euro ($1.57 billion) loan from the European Investment Bank to handle Olympic projects.

But Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos insisted the budget of 4.6 billion euros ($4.92 billion) will not increase.

The budget of the organizing committee is nearly 2 billion euros ($2.09 billion). More than 80 percent of the money comes from television rights, sponsors, tickets and commercial use of the 2004 emblem, Hitiris said. The state is to cover at least 14 percent.