Greece to send 100 athletes to Olympics
Around 100 Greek athletes will compete at the Olympic Games, a top sports official insisted on Thursday, countering speculation that track and field stars may not make it to London because of financial cuts.
Panos Bitsaxis, Greek general secretary of sports, was responding to the decision by Greece's athletics federation (SEGAS) to suspend all athletic activities in the country until the state takes back its proposals to make drastic cuts in their budget.
The announcement, Bitsaxis told radio station Athens 984, has "misled the international press into believing that Greece will not be represented at the Games".
"Greece will be in London with around 100 athletes," he said, warning however: "The gentlemen at the federation must take into account the time and place that we live in today. The athletics federation is the locomotive of Greek athletics.
"But there is no doubt that the financial crisis cannot leave Greek athletics untouched. The resources are limited."
SEGAS president Vasilis Sevastis said on Thursday that he had met with Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos, who is also in charge of sports in the country, and that he gave him the impression that an effort will be made to solve the financial problems of the federation.
However he charged the Secretariat of Sports with selective and non-transparent policies regarding the issuing of grants and complained that some sports federations had not undergone the minimum reductions.
"If a solution is not found, we will continue our actions, even if it means not participating in international meets," warned Sevastis, adding that federation coaches had not been paid since June.
But he added: "What we will certainly try to avoid at all costs is to discontinue the preparation of athletes for the London Olympics.
"The state should also deal seriously with the equipment at the stadiums. In a short time we won't have athletes as there will not be equipment."