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Budget issues hurt Greece’s 2012 Olympic plans

Christopher Werth Apr 5, 2012

Stacey Vanek Smith: Today, the Greek Athletics Federation laid out what it sees as a “bleak future” for sports. The federation has suspended track and field events as part of budget cutbacks in the country. That puts into question Greece’s ability compete in the London Olympics this summer.

Christopher Werth has more.

Christopher Werth: The Olympic Games started in Greece, but today the Olympic spirit may be flagging.

Giorgi Pomaski is a coach for Greece’s national athletics team. I asked him whether his athletes were ready for the summer games. He says… maybe.

Giorgi Pomaski: Maybe, maybe. I hope. I hope.

Greece has been on the verge of bankruptcy for the last three years. The Greek Athletics Federation has seen its budget cut by 25 percent. The organization is struggling to pay coaches and athletes.  And Pomaski says his training facility can’t even afford hot water.

Pomaski: This moment the federation don’t have money, don’t have money for electricity. It’s very cold. Very big problem.

Budget problems may be most acute in Greece, but they’re also hurting other European countries ahead of the Olympics. Paul Downward is a sports economist at Loughborough University in England.

Paul Downward: What you will see probably in smaller countries is a honing down of their teams, targeting on specific events where they’re likely to be successful.

Downward says it’s the age of austerity in Europe, and he expects London’s Summer Games to seem very austere when compared with the Beijing Olympics just four years ago.

In London, I’m Christopher Werth for Marketplace.

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