10 August, 2004
President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos extended a warm welcome to delegates of the 116th International Olympic Committee (IOC) assembly, saying Greece wants everyone to believe that it has undertaken the hosting of the Olympic Games with love and dedication and in full recognition of the seriousness of such an endeavor.
Addressing on Monday the opening session, he said Greece was much honored to have been chosen to host the 2004 Games. The country also felt a huge burden of responsibility, and consequently, has done all it could to meet its responsibilities.
“Greeks, no matter where they are, feel that the Olympic Games are a part of their ancient and modern history. We feel very proud to be staging the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad, and I welcome you to this meeting most sincerely,” Stephanopoulos told delegates, who gathered at the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron).
The Greek president said he was personally hurt by some reports predicting the Games' failure, calling on IOC members to make their assessments at the conclusion of the Games.
“Greece is not claiming anything at all in return for everything it has offered in the past to the Olympic ideals, but we do seek to convince everyone that it has undertaken to stage the Games with all its love and dedication to the institution, and in full knowledge of the gravity of this attempt,” he said.
He noted that the modern Olympic Games differ immensely from those of antiquity, while saying that the IOC is often concerned with existing problems, which as he pointed out, often tarnish the noble ideal of competition and defame sports.
“These kinds of problems have increased to such a degree that it would be extremely difficult to eradicate them completely. I am not claiming that you should give up the fight, but I believe that any negative elements our era attach to the Games should be counter-balanced with the positive offer of cultural events that accompany the Olympics,” he said.
Referring to expenditures for the 2004 Olympic Games, he said costs have risen, although works of art have been created and there were increased costs for security concerns.
Concluding, he wished everyone a pleasant time in Greece, every success to the conference, while adding: “I wish that the Olympic Games are always successful, safe and brilliant.”
"Today the Olympic Movement returns to its historic cradle," Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said during her speech at the 116th IOC session held at the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron) on Monday.
"For athletes, the Games represent a life mission - a decade or more of training, discipline and sacrifices. The athletes have promised to give their best and we will do exactly the same," she said. Angelopoulos-Daskalaki repeated the promise she had made seven years ago (as president of the Greek bid committee): "If you kick, hit, catch or throw a ball; if you ride a horse or a bicycle; if you sail or shoot, if you row or fence, if you hold a racket or lift weights; if you aim with an arrow or shoot with a gun; if you wrestle or dive; if you aspire to be the first woman to cross the finish line or the man with the strongest willpower...we will do the best we can so that you can achieve the best you can."
As for Olympic preparation and the works that have been completed, the Athens 2004 president stressed that "Greece wants to show that its ancient legacy finds expression in the modern face of present-day Athens. Visitors who have come from all over the world, will see that we Greeks honor our past by excelling in the present. People will be surprised when they see our new facilities - beautiful aesthetically, fantastic in design and as we've been saying all these years - ideal for the Games."
Source: Athens News Agency