ATHENS — Like many high-powered executives, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki relies on a day planner. In hers are the past, present and future of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, the president of the Athens 2004 organizing committee, has a system. On oversized yellow sticky notes in her day planner she scribbles her to-do lists. Items that are resolved later to her satisfaction she highlights in blue. Those that need further attention are highlighted in red.
When she took over the committee three years ago, the list was chocka-block with red, and the International Olympic Committee was sharply critical of Athens authorities for delays. Lately, though, it has edged toward blue.
Not that all in Athens is complete. With the Games scheduled to begin Aug. 13, 2004, as Angelopoulos-Daskalaki allowed at last week's IOC meeting, significant construction remains to be completed, security training needs to be completed and, as she said, "Even the slightest time slippages can cause problems."
But enough progress has been made, enough buildings are rising out of the ground, enough railroad track has been laid that maybe, just maybe, the Athens Games can be what the IOC and Greek officials envisioned when Athens was awarded the 2004 Olympics in 1997 -- as she described it in a report last week to the IOC, "good for the Games."
Even if the buildings get built, there undoubtedly will remain concerns about this or that in Athens, until the Games conclude -- for instance, the summer weather. The temperature here as late as 5:30 p.m. Saturday was a blistering 104 degrees.
Even so, IOC President Jacques Rogge, speaking last week at an IOC assembly in Prague while recalling a visit to Athens in May 2001, said, "Nothing was constructed. It was a piece of scorched earth we found -- here and there with bulldozers.
"What you have done in two years is remarkable," he told Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, referring to her and the Greek government, led by prime minister Costas Simitis. The government oversees Olympic-related construction in and around Athens.
Henry Kissinger, the former U.S. secretary of state who took part in the reform plan the IOC enacted after the Salt Lake City corruption scandal and is now an honorary member of the IOC, said, "It's a small country, a tense area. If they can bring it off, hold successful Games, which I think they will, it will be proof that peaceful cooperation is possible, even in that region, and you don't have to be huge to be successful."
As recently as February, at a meeting at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, Rogge said there remained "serious concerns" about the fate of the 2004 Games. Angelopoulos-Daskalaki hurriedly left the building without speaking to reporters.
In Prague last week, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, 47, was so relaxed that she cordially held court in the mezzanine restaurant of a hotel.
Any relaxation, she made plain, is momentary and should not be confused with complacency -- because there is no margin for delay or error.
In 2000, after then-IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch issued a grave warning, the Greek authorities called Angelopoulos-Daskalaki back to the scene to take over the organizing committee. A former member of the Greek parliament, she had led the winning 1997 bid, then watched as others tried -- and failed -- to attend to the thousands of details that go into the making of an Olympics.
A financial sketch of the 2004 Games provides but one measure of their magnitude: The government's outlay is estimated at 4.5 billion euros, now equal to $5.2 billion. The organizing committee's operating revenue totals 1.962 billion euros, $2.258 billion. At current exchange rates, the combined total tops $7 billion.
"It's like your nation calls you for war, and we have to battle for that, that reason," she said. "To tell you the truth, people will remember, they say it was only during war, the Second World War, that the country was so much on duty -- because the nation called for that."
The Athens 2004 report Thursday to the full IOC membership noted that a long-delayed contract for security materiel has been signed. The security budget alone tops $600 million and plans revolve around 45,000 "security professionals." Greek authorities have in recent months broken up a murderous domestic terror group called 17 November, which had operated, seemingly with impunity, since the 1970s.
Among those slain: one of Theodore Angelopoulos' uncles, a wealthy industrialist gunned down in Athens in 1986. Also among the victims: Pavlos Bakoyannis, killed in 1989 when he was a deputy in the Greek parliament. His wife, Dora, was elected mayor of Athens.
In the report, a pleasant surprise came with the first round of 2004 ticket ordering. Officials had hoped to get orders for 300,000 tickets; they got 591,112, of which 82% came from Greek buyers.