Greek Athletics Federation suspends operations amid financial crisis

The move is a major embarrassment for a nation that staged the Olympic Games only eight years ago, but is the latest result of Greece’s mounting financial crisis. SEGAS’s action is the first such act by a Greek sporting body and immediately halts all domestic track and field competitions. “The Board of Athletics Federation… unanimously decided to suspend all domestic sporting activity until decisions to make unfair and selective cuts in funding are reviewed,” SEGAS said in a statement.

The Federation is set to meet again in a fortnight and could reportedly further toughen its stance to include international events if the government fails to meet its requests. SEGAS stated that authorities need to “intervene and avert the economic dead-end and the disintegration of track and field”.

Federation president Vassilis Sevastis told the Associated Press on Tuesday that substantial cuts in state funding have left coaches and suppliers unpaid for up to 10 months, adding that SEGAS was unable to cover its basic needs. The organisation’s budget has been slashed by one-third and currently stands at around Eur6.5 million.

Sevastis said: “Around Eur2 million was cut last year – that’s money we owe to athletes, coaches, sporting associations and suppliers. After more cuts were brought in this year, we’re at a dead end financially. We want the government to reverse its decisions.”

SEGAS’ action comes after the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) last week stated its leg of the Olympic torch relay will go ahead as planned after securing financial backing from the sponsorship sector. The HOC revealed that several international companies had stepped forward to support the May 10-17 event, which is normally backed in part by the country’s government. Greece’s financial travails saw the country last year stripped of its hosting rights to the 2013 Mediterranean Games over budget cuts. The latest news will not affect the torch relay or the selection of Greek athletes for London 2012.