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Olympic Ticket Sales Brisk, Hours Ahead of Opening Ceremony


City workers in Athens were putting fresh coats of paints on the concrete barrier along the main road leading to the Olympic Village just days before Friday's opening ceremonies. Tens of thousands of visitors arrive this week for the games, some already armed with passes to the venues others not. So, after getting off to a relatively slow start, Olympic ticket sales are beginning to pick up pace.

Some said it couldn't be done, that Greece was just not up to the momentous task of hosting the 2004 Olympics. Even some Greeks questioned the wisdom of their government. But now they and a record number of visitors this week are lining up for tickets.

"I've been staying here for about 20 minutes and - right here. I haven't moved at all," one tourist complained.

Ticket receipts for Tuesday alone topped 89,000 after organizers opened four ticket centers around Athens earlier this week. Lines are long, but the enthusiasm is growing.

"I would like to see tennis, badminton and volleyball…It's just once in my life that I would wait maybe an hour, not more. But I won't do it again, so whats the big deal?" another tourist said.

Just a few weeks ago, ticket sales were reported as sluggish especially among the local population. Now, Athens Olympic officials are hoping sales will exceed expectations by selling at least 70 percent of the available 5.3 million tickets by opening day ceremonies.

Dora Bakoyannis is the Mayor of Athens and one of the driving forces behind the city's bid to host the games.

"I would never say I told you so, but I would say trust the Greeks. They made it," the mayor said.

At a news conference in Athens, Ms Bakoyannis described the games as a new chapter in both Greek and Olympic history.

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