Last big Games "wonderfully successful": IOC
The Athens Olympics have been "wonderfully successful" despite initial concerns that a small nation like Greece could not carry the burden of such a big event, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Friday.
The Athens Games, drawing to a close this week, will be the last Olympics of its size as the IOC has agreed on over 117 changes over the next two Games to make them more manageable and attractive to cities considering bids to host them.
"They have been wonderfully successful," IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies told reporters. "Athens has hosted extremely successful Games."
Greece is the smallest nation since Finland in 1952, to stage the world's biggest sporting event.
Athens struggled with dozens of construction and organisation problems, falling well behind schedule and prompting the IOC to warn it risked losing the Games. It has since been praised for its organisation.
But rising costs for stadiums and infrastructure projects, mainly because of double and triple shifts to make up for lost time, and a rapidly swelling security budget, has driven the final price tag to at least $12.08 billion, according to the Greek government.
The initial budget in 1997 was about 3.5 billion euros.
"We have success here and for the future we have the process in place to ensure the success will continue and the size is manageable," Davies said.
The IOC has agreed to reduce the size of the Games, limiting the total number of sports to 28 and doing away with several facilities considered unnecessary.
IOC chief Jacques Rogge said all 117 measures will be in place by the 2012 Games.
The IOC will decide next year whether Madrid, London, Moscow, Paris or New York will host those Games.
The next Games will be hosted by Beijing in 2008.