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Many Wonder if Greek Election will Speed Up Olympic Preperations - 2004-03-08

Many are wondering whether new leadership will help Greece move along faster in preparations for this year's Olympic Games in Athens.

After Sunday's elections, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge met and congratulated the new conservative leadership in Greece led by Costas Caramanlis. Rogge complimented the country's new prime minister and reminded all parties of their promise not to let the election outcome disrupt preparations for the Athens Olympics.

The new prime minister will lead the New Democracy party and plans to announce his new cabinet on Tuesday. He said in his victory speech Sunday that "all of us, working together, will give our best" to bring about the best and safest Olympics ever held.

But Olympic preparations have been plagued by delays under the socialists and culture minister Evangelos Venizelos. There are reports in Greek media suggesting he could be replaced by the chief Olympic organizer, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who would serve as the new culture minister or Olympics minister.

The IOC had wanted Greece to designate an Olympic minister so the position would have more power to cut through the political and bureaucratic problems associated with organizing the games.

Mr. Caramanlis has invited IOC President Jacques Rogge to Athens and the two men could meet as early as Saturday.