Ambulance drivers and paramedics in Athens began a series of strikes yesterday to demand an Olympic bonus similar to the one police and other security personnel were promised.

The paramedics union rejected the government's offer of a $48 monthly raise instead of the bonus. The police and other security forces were promised bonuses of up to $3,000.

Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis appealed to the union to consider its responsibilities during the Aug. 13-29 Games and insisted the government's offer was fair because it was a permanent increase, not just a bonus.

Plenty of Tickets Available

Olympic ticket sales are picking up after a slow start, but organizers said that more than half the seats for the Summer Games still are available.

Just 10 days before the opening ceremony, 2.2 million of the 5.2 million tickets have been bought. About 38,000 tickets were sold Monday, the most for one day, officials said.

International concern over terrorism and construction delays at Olympic sites have hurt sales. Rooms are still available at some Athens hotels despite earlier fears of an accommodation shortage.

'Buying the Games' on BBC

Four middlemen claim in meetings secretly taped by a British Broadcasting Corporation program that they could secure IOC members' votes in bidding for the 2012 Olympics.

The show, which offers no conclusive evidence of bribery, will air in Britain tonight. Reporters were shown an advance screening yesterday.

Only one IOC member, Ivan Slavkov of Bulgaria, is specifically implicated. He is shown discussing how to influence votes, but his comments are ambiguous, and he and one of the middlemen, Goran Takac, denied any wrongdoing.

The BBC's "Buying the Games" report is based on a yearlong undercover investigation.

Decathlete Dvorak Ailing

Former Olympic decathlon champion Tomas Dvorak has a recurring Achilles' tendon injury and has not yet decided whether to compete in Athens. The Czech won gold at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Henin-Hardenne to Play

Top-ranked Belgian tennis star Justine Henin-Hardenne has recovered enough from a viral infection to play in the Olympics.

Henin-Hardenne had been weakened by an energy-sapping infection since April and has played in only one tournament since. The Olympic singles competition is Aug. 15-22.