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Greece could lose 2013 Mediterranean Games, organisers says

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece could lose the 2013 Mediterranean Games if they fail to build two planned villages for athletes and officials, the International Committee for the Mediterranean Games (ICMG) said on Friday.

The cities of Volos and Larissa in central Greece have been awarded the event but organisers face financial problems after the government’s decision to withdraw funding for the villages due to austerity measures put in place to deal with the country’s economic crisis.

A reported 190 million euros ($251.6 million) is required for the construction project and Finance Minister Giorgos Papakonstantinou has told Greek organisers that they must find an alternative solution.

“The decision is subject to a meeting of the ICMG Executive Board but Greece is in the red zone, which does not exclude the possibility of moving the Games elsewhere,” ICMG president Amar Addadi told Reuters.

After delays in the start of preparations for the Games, a new Greek organising committee (OCMG) was installed in March and they are set to give their latest progress update to the ICMG’s Coordination Commission which will visit Athens on Sunday.

Addadi said the ICMG was “very sensitive” about Greece’s difficult financial situation.

“What we cannot understand, however, is the lack of respect regarding some commitments within the bid file and the contract, and the lack of simple respect towards the ICMG and its representatives as an international sport institution,” he said.

According to local media reports, the OCMG are now investigating alternative solutions, such as housing athletes and officials in university accommodation and luxury cruise liners at the port of Volos.

Addadi said he has not received any official alternative proposals for the two villages.

“We are not aware of any official position from the Greek side regarding this issue,” he said. “We have asked many times for meetings to discuss it and we are still awaiting an answer.

“I don’t know if the ICMG will accept or refuse such proposals, this is something which will be decided by the executive committee.”

Pescara, the Italian venue for the 2009 Games, has been suggested as a possible alternative should the ICMG decide to move the event.

Editing by John Mehaffey; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com

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