ATHENS 2004 UPDATE -04Dec03-

by Erskine McCullough

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Dec 4 (AFP) - Security at the2004 Athens Olympics will not spoil the Games promisedGianna Angelopoulos, head of the organising committee,here on Thursday.
Security is a global concern,’’ said Angelopoulos.We will not let anyone down. What we promise is arelaxed games, a pure and happy games for the people.'' Her comments came after the IOC executive boardapproved plans to hold the women and men's shot puttcompetition at the Games' ancient birthplace in Olympia. Dedicated to the father of the gods Zeus, Olympia,some 350km southwest of Athens, is the birthplace of theOlympic Games in 776 and it is there that the Olympicflame is lit. To protect the site no spectator stands will be built.Instead spectators will sit on the grassy slopesoverlooking the site. Originally it had been planned to hold only the men'scompetition in Olympia but after a slew of protests fromwomen's rights groups the women's competition was alsoincluded. Angelopoulos called the board's approval an historicdecision. In this way Ancient Olympia becomes part of theuniqueness and authenticity of the Olympic Games ofGreece,’’ she said.
It becomes the timeless symbol marking the return ofthe Olympic Games to their homeland and linking theancient Olympic Games with the Games of the revival in1896 and with the modern Games,'' she added. The executive board also approved the opening andclosing ceremonies. Although no details were released a Games offical inAthens revealed that water will play a central role inthe opening ceremony. Works are underway at the interior of the mainOlympic stadium for the opening ceremony, which shouldbe very spectacular,’’ Nikos Louridas, an engineersupervising construction on behalf of the Greekgovernment, told reporters during a venue tour.
``It (the ceremony) will be a real surprise. Therewill be much water in it,’’ Louridas added, refusing togo into further details.
The executive board also approved Greek plans for thetorch relay.
The Olympic flame will visit 37 cities in all fivecontinents.
The board demanded Havana, Leipzig and Madrid be addedto the original list of 34 cities.
All three are bidding for the 2012 Games againstLondon, Paris, Moscow, Rio, Istanbul and New York whowere included in the original list.