(ATR) Stars of Olympic sport in Greece are saluted at the annual Awards Ceremony in Athens organized by the Hellenic Olympic Committee.
Dozens of figures from sport, business and government turned out for the ceremony at the HOC headquarters, including Prokopios Pavlopoulos, the president of the Hellenic Republic.
Conspicuous by absence, an IOC member in Greece to join in the congratulations. That’s because Greece has been without an IOC member since 2015, when Lambis Nikolaou retired. It’s the longest gap ever for a Greek member since the IOC was founded in 1894.
"It is one of the rare moments in 120 years that there is no IOC member for Greece which from my point of view is an embarrassment and a shame and this problem has to be resolved," said European Olympic Committees president Janez Kocijančič in his remarks.
The IOC Commission on the Election of New Members is the gateway to a seat on the IOC. But the six-member group chaired by the Princess Royal has yet to nominate a new member in Greece. Around the Rings has been told by IOC sources that may change this year. If that is the case, then nominations will beconsidered in June when the IOC Session for this year is held.
Hellenic Olympic Committee president Spyros Capralos, who’s also pushing for a new member from Greece, led the ceremony.
"We bade farewell to 2018 with great satisfaction and pride, as the year was concluded for our country with 125 medals in World and European championships in all categories, a strong proof that our athletes are the best ambassador of Greece," said Capralos.
Athletes honored in Athens this week included gymnast Lefteris Petrounias, a 2016 Olympic gold medalist, gold medal sport shooter Anna Korakaki, karate world champ Eleni Hatziliadou, 2016 pole vault gold medalist Katerina Stefanidi, and long jumpers Miltos Tentoglou and Voula Papachristou, who’s also a triple jumper.
The eight Greek medalists from the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires were also recognized.
Capralos also thanked Kocijančič and EOC Secretary General Raffaele Pagnozzi for the help of the EOC after the wildfires last year. The EOC, ANOC and IOC donated $150,000 to aid athletes and sport infrastructure affected by the wildfires.
"I want to wholeheartedly thank them for this important gesture, which shows solidarity to our country and to the Hellenic Olympic Committee," said Capralos.
Reported by Ed Hula.