Greece’s preparations for London 2012 could be severely hit after the country’s national athletics governing body suspended all its domestic operations due to severe spending cuts.
The move means competitions will not take place in Greece until further notice, an incredible state of affairs for a country that hosted the Olympics only eight years ago.
“The Board of Athletics Federation has unanimously decided to suspend all domestic sporting activity until decisions to make unfair and selective cuts in funding are reviewed,” a statement said on the federation’s website www.segas.gr said.
The decision is not expected to have any immediate impact on the nation’s selection process for the Olympics, although SEGAS warned it may take further action – including withdrawing from international competitions – if the Government does not respond to its demands to reverse spending cuts that have left several athletes and coaches unpaid.
“The Federation calls on the state’s sports leadership, and particularly the Minister of Culture, Pavlos Geroulanos, to intervene in order to prevent the economic collapse and dissolution of the structure of Greek athletics,” SEGAS said.
“The Federation will be ready to reconsider its position in the next few days for further escalation or de-escalation of decisions, depending on the progress that has been made concerning this major problem
SEGAS made a similar move in December, suspending its operations for 15 days as a warning for the state to give assurances that more money would be available.
SEGAS President Vassilis Sevastis said in December that the Sports Ministry had cut funding by 50 per cent from 2008 to 2011 and the federation budget approved for 2011 was €7.35 million (£6.07 million/$9.80 million), which “barely covered basic operating costs”.
He added that, according to the proposals from the Finance Ministry, further cuts in 2012 could reach up to 85 per cent of those reported for 2011, the result of the severe economic crisis facing the country.
Greek Olympic hopefuls have been forced to rely on handouts from the International Olympic Committee’s Solidarity programme after initial state cutbacks in funding at the end of last year.
Greece failed to win a medal at last year’s World Championships but Hrysopiyi Devetzi (pictured) did claim bronze in the triple jump at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Recent disparaging comments by several top Greek athletes that training facilities are poor have exacerbated the issue.
On top of that, the Government’s decision to withdraw €190 million (£157 million/$248 million) of funding for accommodation projects for the Mediterranean Games ended in humiliation.
The Games, which were initially supposed to be held in Volos and Larisa in 2013, were taken away from Greece and awarded to the coastal city of Mersin in Turkey as a result.
This article was taken from insidethegames.biz, a blog of the organizing committee of the 2012 Summer Games in London. The article is reprinted here with permission. For more from this blog go to http://insidethegames.biz.