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Chinese runner to make Olympic history in Greece March 1, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Olympic Games.
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For the first time in Olympic history, a Chinese person will run the second leg of the torch relay in Ancient Olympia, Greece, where the flame will be lit, George Aidonis, the City’s Mayor, said on Friday in Beijing.

“There will be a few changes to the torch relay in Olympia this year, as a Chinese person will run the second leg, carrying the torch from the gate of the ruins to the Municipal Hall,” Aidonis, who is visiting Beijing this week, said.

The Olympic flame for the Beijing Games will be lit in front of the ruins of the Temple of Hera at 12 noon on March 24.

The lighting ceremony will start with the “High Priestess”, played by Greek actress Maria Nafpliotou. She will then pass the torch to the first runner, a Greek athlete, who will carry it to the temple gateway and pass it over to the Chinese runner.

“This will be the first time a torchbearer from the Games’ host country will take the flame from a Greek athlete and run the second leg,” Aidonis said. “The Chinese runner will be decided by the Chinese embassy in Greece and the Beijing Olympic organizing committee,” he said.

With the sacred ceremony now less than a month away, the Mayor said everything is in place, despite the fact the city is still trying to recover from a forest fire last year. “The preparations for the lighting ceremony are almost complete,” Aidonis said. “Olympia has a lot of experience of hosting the event,” he said, referring to the fact that the city has staged similar events every two years since 1936, to mark the start of both the summer and winter Olympics.

“The biggest problem for us this time has been dealing with the destruction caused by the fire. But the central government and municipal government in Olympia have taken a series of measurements to get the city back on its feet,” he said.

In August last year, massive forest fires ripped through the Peloponnese area of Greece, causing considerable damage to Olympia. In response, the Greek government launched an emergency tree-planting scheme around the city to restore the beauty of the site for the torch-lighting ceremony.

“The trees have now come into blossom, so I am confident the site will be back to its best in time for the sacred ceremony,” Aidonis said.

The Mayor has participated in every lighting ceremony since 1978, and said he expects this year’s to be something special. “It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when the Olympic flame is lit. It is a deeply heartwarming experience,” he said. “And seeing the flame lit for China, a country that has a long history and rich culture, just like Greece, will make the event even more special. “The Olympic spirit will spread rapidly around the world,” he said.

The flame will be handed over to the organizing committee of the Beijing Games at 3 pm on March 30 at the Panathenaiko Stadium in Athens, the city where the first Modern Olympics Games were held in 1896. After a reception ceremony in Beijing on March 31, the Olympic flame will begin its global tour on April 1.

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Australian Greek festival focus on food March 1, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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Greek men were preparing fish yesterday at the Hellenic Hall in North Hobart for tomorrow’s Estia Greek Festival.

With a fine 21C predicted, event co-ordinator Alanah Diamantis, of Berriedale, is expecting more than 5000 people will attend the street festival. Festival chairwoman Helen Kalis said the event was getting bigger each year as more people from the wider community became involved. “In the beginning, people would say: ‘What’s Estia?‘ Now they know it means Greek Festival,” she said.

Among the 200 volunteers were Australians with non-Greek backgrounds, she said. “It’s come a long way since it started and is something that we are proud of,” she said. Mrs Diamantis said: “It’s a real way to combine the Australian and Greek cultures and show and educate people about what is on offer.”

Traditional Greek cuisine, music, dancing, art and wine will be highlights of the event, now in its 15th year. With food this year’s theme, the committee has published traditional recipes in the festival program.

While the street party tomorrow is a highlight, the festival continues until March 28 and other events include:

  • A soccer match between Italian and Greek teams at Sandy Bay’s Sandown Park on Monday March 10 from 1pm.
  • A Taverna Night at the Hellenic Hall, with live Greek music by Bouzouki Boys, Saturday March 15, 7.30pm, $40 a head.
  • A fashion parade at the Hellenic Hall on March 28 at 8pm, $25 for adults, $15 for children under 16 and under-10 free.
  • For information and bookings, call 0400 823 105.

Chelsea bans Greeks from buying tickets March 1, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Football.
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In anticipation of its next Champions League game, English club says those of Greek nationality who are not members of the team’s club will have their online orders canceled for the match against Greece

If Alexi Lalas or Peter Vagenas wanted to make a quick trip to England to watch Chelsea play Olympiakos of Greece in a European Champions League match on Wednesday, they would be out of luck.

The Galaxy supposedly has a “special relationship” with the English Premier League club, but that would not make any difference.

Lalas, the Galaxy’s president, and Vagenas, its veteran midfielder, both have Greek surnames, and Chelsea, astonishingly, is banning anyone with Greek roots from obtaining tickets to the game. Or at least those who are not official members of the club.

“Nonmembers of a Greek nationality buying tickets for the Olympiakos game will have their orders canceled,” Chelsea said on its official website.

It already has happened. English newspapers reported that one fan, Peter Pakos, had tried to buy two tickets to the match for almost $200, only to be rebuffed. “It’s incredible discrimination,” Pakos told reporters. “It’s shortsighted and clumsy. We may have a Greek background, but we’re Chelsea fans through and through.”

Stung by such unwanted publicity, Chelsea late Friday said that its policy extended only to those buying tickets online. Those buying in person would not be affected, it said.

The club said its policy was in accordance with UEFA regulations on the segregation of fans, and that it was trying to prevent Olympiakos supporters in Greece from buying tickets online for seats reserved for Chelsea fans.

Chelsea and Olympiakos tied, 0-0, in Greece in the first game and Wednesday’s winner will advance to the Champions League quarterfinals.

Greek Festival > West Palm Beach March 1, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Diaspora Festivals.
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Discover the tradition and culture of Greece at this 33rd annual festival presented by the Greek community of St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church at Southern Boulevard and Flagler Drive (at the foot of the Southern Boulevard Bridge) in West Palm Beach.

Enjoy the artistry and rhythm of the award-winning “Heart of Greece” dancers as they perform in full traditional dress; live orchestra for dancing by the Hellenics Band (Bouzouki music); Greek dance lessons (learn Zorba’s Dance); enjoy homemade Greek delicacies and authentic cuisine; Greek beverages such as Ouzo and Metaxa (in the Taverna); delicious pastries and Greek coffee in the bakery and coffee shop; and Greek imports featuring some of the newest jewelry, arts and crafts, paintings and specialty boutique items. 

Location > West Palm Beach venue, West Palm Beach  FL  33401
Sat, 3/1 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Sun, 3/2 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Cost: Adults $4 donation; children under 12 w/adult free
Info: (561) 833 6387

Greek Kalomoira heads for Eurovision in Belgrade March 1, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life, Music Life Greek.
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01-03-08_kalomoira.jpg  Kalomoira’s upbeat song ‘My Secret Combination’ came first in the competition for the Greek song to represent Greece.

The title of the invitation that attracted a huge crowd of people who believe in the Eurovision Song Contest and are involved in the institution to the Athinon Arena club on Pireos Avenue, was «A song to vote for.» The 53rd in the series, this year’s contest will take place in Belgrade in May.

State radio and TV company ERT organized a huge music party to choose the song that is to represent Greece. The three frontrunners were presented by singers Chryspa, Kalomoira and Costas Martakis. All three songs are dance numbers on the subject of love. Chryspa sang «A Chance to Love» accompanied by male dancers; Kalomoira sang «My Secret Combination» while male dancers took off their T-shirts and waved them around, and Martakis, all in white, sang «Always and Forever» with female dancers doing a number that ended with the singer on a throne like a Greek god.

The public vote, by text message and phone calls, accounted for 60 percent of the result, with the remaining 40 percent decided by the jury, comprising ERT executives headed by composer Mimis Plessas. All three songs appealed, but the young fans of coquettish Kalomoira secured her the first place and a ticket to Belgrade. It was a stunning spectacle, the presenters Betty and Matilda Maggira were excellent, and the organization was impeccable. The host, ERT President Christos Panagopoulos, was present. To be continued in Belgrade.

Marks and Spencer buys stake in Greece’s Marinopoulos March 1, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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Marks and Spencer Plc (M&S), Britain’s biggest clothing retailer, has bought a half share in a franchise operation in Eastern Europe as part of its drive to expand abroad.

M&S, which also sells food and homewares, said it had bought 50 percent of a venture with Greece’s privately owned Marinopoulos BV which operates 38 M&S stores in Greece, Romania and Bulgaria, as well as Switzerland, for 50 million euros cash. It said the venture planned to open 50 new stores in these markets over the next few years.

Shipowners eye Piraeus March 1, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Business & Economy.
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UK bill could cut their privileges, convincing them to join the Greek register

Many Greek shipowners are expressing their desire to leave London and return to Piraeus if a new tax bill depriving them of privileges is passed by the British Parliament, as the British press has reported.

At the annual meeting between the Association of Greek Shipowners and the Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee of London, held in the British capital yesterday in the presence of Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis, the issue was discussed in detail, with the Minister stressing that more measures will be taken to attract more shipowners to the Greek register.

“Each government makes its own calculations and, of course, we cannot suggest a tax policy to another country. What Greece and its government are interested in is having our doors open to the trends of the times,” said Voulgarakis who added that: “We want Piraeus to emerge as a global shipping center and I have explained to Greek shipowners that we are determined to take the essential measures that will attract more shipowners to Piraeus, where already 1,200 shipping companies are based.”

“We are not just interested in Greek shipowners in Greece; we also care for anyone else who wishes to become active in Piraeus, so that our country can make the most of the significant position it has as the top shipping power in the world,” the Minister said.

The meeting touched on a variety of Greek and international shipping issues, including the country’s register, collective contracts, naval education, the attraction of young people to maritime professions, developments in the insurance sector and the participation of Greece in European Union bodies and other international organizations.

The president of the committee, Epaminondas Embirikos, said: “This was a very successful meeting because we have had the opportunity to exchange views with the minister, too, and he had the chance to listen to the discussions we have had on various subjects with the Association of Greek Shipowners, so he obtained a good knowledge of the issues that concern us.”

He added that “this was the first time ever that the Greek Merchant Marine Minister has been at our joint meeting, which demonstrates that this Minister cares for Greek shipping, has a deep understanding of the issues and this is very important and satisfactory.”

Voulgarakis insisted that “with the policy we are following, we are interested in assisting their efforts, which contributes $2 million per hour to our country, such is the benefit to the Greek economy of the presence of Greek shipping.”