2004 Olympics Director Replaced

Thursday, June 22nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The managing director of the 2004 Olympics was replaced Thursday in a shuffle that handed the troubled planning effort back to the team that won the games for Athens.

The departure of Costas Bakouris was the latest high-level shakeup on the 2004 organizing committee, which has been sharply criticized for delays and slow decision-making.

He was replaced by Petros Sinadinos, a close ally of Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, the former bid committee leader who returned last month to take over the Olympic preparations.

Sinadinos, 46, an Italian- and U.S.-trained architect, had a key role in Athens' successful bid for the games.

A planning board was expanded Thursday from 15 to 17 members and is dominated by other bid committee members. The board's five-member executive committee, which includes Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, has wide-ranging powers, including the ability to allocate funds.

The new 2004 inner circle apparently cements the control of Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who is trying to restore confidence in the Olympic effort.

It should also win favor from the International Olympic Committee, which had blasted Athens for falling far behind schedule. IOC executives later hailed the appointment of Angelopoulos-Daskalaki as a sign that Athens can keep pace with the Olympic planning demands.

Athens held the first modern Olympics in 1896. Some critics believe Greece is too small and poorly managed to handle the complexities of the contemporary games.

There was no immediate reason given for the departure of Bakouris, a former business executive who was one of the first top officials to join the organizing committee in 1998. He declined to comment.

The organizational changes were part of a law designed to streamline bureaucracy and speed up decision making. The measure gives the government more strength to take land for Olympic venues and other related projects.

Greece's premier, Costas Simitis, also promised to be personally involved in Olympic planning.

IOC envoys plan to return to Athens in August for a progress report. In May, they gave 2004 organizers 100 days to overcome delays and get back on track.

In July 1999, Stratis Stratigis abruptly resigned as president of the organizing committee. His replacement, central banker Panagiotis Thomopoulos, lasted until May when Angelopoulos-Daskalaki took over.