An IOC spokeswoman on Saturday reiterated that the ongoing 2004 Games are an absolute success, while expressing her certainty that Sunday’s Closing Ceremony should be fantastic as well.
Meanwhile, in other matters and in response to a press question citing the presence of 12 individuals wearing volunteers’ uniforms at a small rally in downtown Athens on Friday organised by ultra-leftist and anti-globalisation groups — to protest a planned but ultimately postponed visit by US Secretary of State Colin Powell – Athens organisers stressed that Olympic volunteers’ role obviously aren’t compatible with propaganda and that specific guidelines while wearing the volunteers uniform are issued, “but volunteers will be volunteers ,” ATHOC communications director Mihalis Zaharatos said.
“We have 45,000 volunteers offering their services for the Olympic Games, I don’t think 12 can change that image … they are (volunteers, overall) the face of the Games, and they’ve been overwhelmingly successful,” he added.
On the ticket front, organisers said close to 3.6 million tickets have been sold as of Friday. “We’re very, very happy. This is a higher number than past cities and countries with a higher population,” Zaharatos said.
ATHOC and the IOC also appeared satisfied with the atmosphere at Friday’s medals award ceremony for the men’s 200m sprint winners, a day after an unprecedented crowd reaction and heckling by fans held up the race for minutes – the same race where Greek sprinter Kostas Kenteris was expected to vie for the gold. Conversely, the scene at the Friday ceremony was described as “excellent”, a welcome relief for organisers and the IOC.
Meanwhile, IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said she could not comment on a local reporter’s query about a letter allegedly sent by the head of the Greek athletics federation (SEGAS) to IAAF’s leadership in relation to the Kenteris affair, correspondence that ostensibly mentions IOC President Jacques Rogge’s interest in the case.
IOC honorary president Juan Antonio Samaranch said on Friday that he was not only satisfied with the Athens 2004 Olympic Summer Games but also happy because Greece has managed to present excellent Games to the world.
Replying to questions on “Sky 100.3 FM”, Samaranch said the IOC was doing its job regarding anti-doping control.
Invited to comment on the fact that spectators on Thursday were chanting the name of Costas Kenteris, who handed in his accreditation after a no-show for an anti-doping control test, Samaranch said the IOC was not disappointed by the peoples’ reaction at the Olympic Stadium.
The IOC is doing its job on the doping issue, has been fighting against steroids for many years now and will continue to do so, he added.