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ATHENS 2004 | REPORT

Closing Tickets Available

August 28, 2004|From Associated Press

Several hundred tickets to Sunday's closing ceremony remained unsold Friday.

Local organizers said about 500 of the highest-priced tickets, which cost $900, remained available.

The celebrations of the Olympics' opening and closing usually sell out.

Olympic Stadium has about 72,000 seats, but not all are for sale. Some tickets are given to dignitaries, Olympic officials and media.

Organizers said they had sold 3.55 million tickets of a total of 5.3 million for the Games.

On Thursday, venues were 82% full.

Ticket revenue has reached $240 million, organizers said.

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With a powerful throw, Mirela Manjani earned a bronze medal in the javelin and gave Greece its most Olympic medals in more than a century.

Thrilled sports fans around the country will turn their attention to men's water polo, where Greece will play for a bronze medal after losing to Serbia and Montenegro in a semifinal Friday.

Greeks also hope their track and field athletes will add to the current tally of six golds, four silvers and four bronzes -- one more medal than Greek athletes won in Sydney in 2000.

In the run-up to the Athens Games, Greek officials said the team was aiming for 20 medals -- a huge haul for a country of 11 million that didn't even break into double digits in the medals table until Sydney.

"We're going for a record," Greek team spokesman Giorgos Gakis said before Manjani's spectacular throw.

Greece would have broken its record earlier in Athens were it not for Leonidas Sampanis, one of the nation's best-loved weightlifters, who was stripped of his bronze after testing positive for twice the normal amount of testosterone.

When news of the lost medal broke last week, Greeks had barely recovered from another doping scandal involving their two top sprinters -- and brightest medal hopes -- who pulled out of the Games before competition had even begun.

Kostas Kenteris, the 200-meter champion in Sydney, and his training partner, 100-meter silver medalist Katerina Thanou, spent days in a hospital following a mysterious motorcycle crash hours after they failed to appear for a drug test.

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