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Tuesday, 12 September, 2000, 03:49 GMT 04:49 UK
Greece in fresh Games warning
International Olympics Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch is still concerned about Greece's ability to stage the 2004 Games.
Five months ago, Samaranch warned that he would consider moving the Olympics to another venue if there weren't considerable improvements in organisation.
Now, with the Sydney Games about to start, he has repeated his warning to Athens.
"You lost three years. Now you have only four years for the organisation of the games," said Samaranch. "That is really very difficult, but we have the confidence you will get it."
Jacques Rogge, the IOC's chief co-ordinator for the 2004 Games, added: "The coming six months will be crucial.
"The government must move forward the deadlines. On paper, the general plan is sound, but it has to be implemented.
"Time has been lost in the past, but no time can be lost in the future. The clock is ticking."
Rogge said substantial progress has been made since April when Samaranch said the Athens Games were in the worst organisational crisis faced by an Olympic city in his 20-year tenure.
Since then, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, the woman who led Athens' successful bid for the games, was brought back to take over the organising committee.
Premier Costas Simitis also assumed full government responsibility for the Olympics.
But Rogge said: "We still have serious concerns. There are very tight schedules for the construction of the general infrastructure.
"Twenty-five percent of the venues still have to be built in four years. The Olympic village has to be finished. This is quite a big task for a country of 10 million people."
Rogge said the IOC had expressed disagreement with government plans for construction of five venue clusters for 12 sports.
While the government has set May 2004 as the target date for completion of the venues, the IOC wants them finished a year earlier so test events can be held.
The five venues concerned are those for yachting, rowing and canoeing, equestrian, softball and baseball, and badminton and fencing.
Security has also emerged as a major issue, particularly since a British diplomat was assassinated by an underground terrorist group in Athens in June.
Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said Athens had formed a special police division for the Olympics and that 26 Greek security experts had travelled to Australia to monitor operations during the upcoming Sydney Games.
"We've made a great deal of progress in the last three months," she said. "We are back on track.
"Certainly there are obstacles still to overcome, a great deal of work ahead, a marathon that lies before us."
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