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Can Greece Afford Olympic Teams?

Cuts force suspension of domestic track and field events
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2012 3:30 AM CDT
Can Greece Afford Olympic Teams?
Greek champion hammer thrower Alexandra Papageorgiou practices for the London Olympics at the deteriorating Agios Cosmas sports facilities in southern Athens.   (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

(Newser) – The birthplace of the Olympics might no longer be able to afford participation in the games. Crushing austerity measures mean there's not enough state funds to pay coaches and training staff, so Greece's Athletic Federation is now suspending all domestic track and field events until the government coughs up some euros. Sports officials say the move won't affect participation in the London Olympics or in the torch-lighting ceremony—for now. That could change if some funding isn't restored, notes the BBC. Olympic athletes are worried.

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"Everything is coming undone," says champion hammer-thrower Alexandra Papageorgiou. The sports system has been so decimated by the economy that "when you live here you don't really feel like a competitive athlete," she adds. "I've lived through the best moments of Greek athletics, and now I'm living through the worst." A member of Greece's women's water polo team, one of the strongest in years, is worried everything "will fall apart." (Read more Greece stories.)

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