Official: No cash for Athens trip

Updated: July 24, 2004, 12:34 AM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- The Greek Olympic baseball team is so short of cash that it has no funds to return for the games after training in the United States, a top official said Friday.

"At this moment we do not have money to pay for the tickets for our team to come to participate in the Olympic Games," Panos Mitsiopoulos, president of the Greek Baseball Federation, told The Associated Press.

All but one player have been training in Baltimore. Peter Angelos, the Greek-American owner of the Baltimore Orioles, helped organize the Greek Olympic team.

Mitsiopoulos' comments came a day after the team's coach threatened to quit in protest over a roster that includes just two local Greek players on the 24-man team. The rest of the spots went to players of Greek heritage -- as remote as great-grandparents -- from the United States and Canada.

Greece, a nation of 11 million people, is relying heavily on athletes of Greek descent for baseball and other sports that are largely unfamiliar in this country.

Mitsiopoulos claims the federation only received about a third of the promised $372,000 for Olympics preparations. He added that other Greek sports federations are also short on funds.

"This is happening with all the teams. All the federations are complaining," Mitsiopoulos said.

There was no immediate comment from Greek officials.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press