Greece's new public works minister questioned Thursday whether Athens should have been awarded the Olympics because of the amount of work needed to host the games.

Giorgos Souflias, whose conservative party took office in March after 11 years of Socialist rule, told a Parliamentary committee on the Olympics that work began too late in the capital city.

"I question if our country should have taken over the organization of the games, to get involved," Souflias said.

Greece was awarded the Olympics in 1997 but failed to begin any serious work on venues, highways and other infrastructure projects until 2000, when the International Olympic Committee warned that the Games were in danger. That forced the Socialist government to appoint Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki to head the organizing committee.

"The first years went by without anything being done," Souflias said.

But Souflias, who was heckled by Socialist deputies for making the comments, said he was confident Athens would be ready for the Aug. 13-29 Games.

"I am not concerned about not succeeding, but about some people to be troubled about whether the games should have happened. I am working night and day for them to succeed," Souflias said.

Angelopoulos-Daskalaki told the committee that 85 percent of the facilities were ready.

-- From News Services