Greece's Olympic baseball coach threatened to quit yesterday to protest a roster that includes just two local players.
"I feel very bitter. . . . I've been used and I feel insulted as a person and as a coach," Dimitris Goussios said. "I'll fight this up until the last minute."
Only two local players were included on the 24-man Olympic team announced by the Hellenic Amateur Baseball Federation this week. The rest of the places went to players of Greek heritage -- as remote as great grandparents -- from the United States and Canada.
Goussios said he wasn't consulted in the team selection and argued that at least six homegrown players should have been chosen to guarantee that the sport has a future in Greece.
Seventeen teams play in a five-year-old Greek baseball league.
Greece, a nation of 11 million people, is relying heavily on those of Greek descent to find athletes in baseball and other sports that are largely unfamiliar in this country.
Male athletes granted summary citizenship for the Olympics have been made exempt from Greek military service.
"Of course the American-born players are of higher quality and we warmly welcome them as part of Greece . . . but this is unfair. Many of the local players have proven their value over the past year," Goussios said.
He said a more "balanced" Greek team won an Olympic test event in March against Russia, Sweden and the Czech Republic.
At the Olympics, Greece will play favorites Cuba and Japan as well the Netherlands, Taiwan, Canada and Australia.
The United States lost to Mexico in a qualifying tournament and was eliminated from the Olympics.
It Takes a Village
Control of the Olympic Village was officially handed to Games organizers, a day before team officials arrive to inspect the complex.
"The Olympic village will be the heart of the Games," said chief Olympic organizer Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. "It is an emotional moment."
Labor minister Panos Panayiotopoulos gave Angelopoulos-Daskalaki a symbolic key to the village. The Olympic village opens its doors to athletes on July 30, but heads of the teams are scheduled to arrive in Greece today.
A Striking Message
Ambulance drivers and paramedics demanding Olympic pay bonuses have called for nationwide strikes during the Games.
The Greek emergency services union declared a 24-hour nationwide strike on Aug. 5 and 24-hour strikes for every day from Aug. 13 through Aug. 27. The Games run Aug. 13-29.
Greek labor groups have launched a campaign of strikes and street rallies after police and other security forces were promised Olympic bonuses up to $3,000. The government rejected the demands, citing skyrocketing Olympic costs.
It was the latest blow delivered by Greek unions, which are demanding extra pay for canceling or cutting short vacations to work during the games.
Country Seeks First
Myanmar will send a two-woman team to the Olympics in an effort to win the country's first medal.
Thin Thin Khine will compete in archery and Nan Aye Khine in weightlifting. Since becoming independent in 1948, Myanmar has participated in every Games except 1976. It won the Fair Play Trophy at the 1972 Olympics in Germany.