Greeks bid for Olympic apartments

More than 17,000 low-income Greeks are crossing their fingers after entering a lottery to win one of the apartments used by athletes during the Olympics.

Winners of the lottery, which runs from Thursday to Sunday, will get the chance to buy one of the 2,292 flats at about half the market rate.

Elderly and severely disabled people, and families with more than five children, were also allowed to enter.

The flats are in the Olympic Village, about 24km (15 miles) north of Athens.

They were specially constructed to house more than 17,000 athletes and officials during the Games in August.

Interest-free payments

The scheme is being run by a subsidiary of the state-run Organisation of Labour Housing, or OEK, which also oversaw construction of the village.

To be eligible to take part on low-income grounds, people have to earn less than the national average wage.

The apartments' new owners will pay for them in interest-free instalments over 30 years.

They will not be able to move in until September 2005, after the apartments are renovated, work that will include the installation of kitchens and central heating.

"We will fix the houses to be lived in by families. Until now we had hotel-type rooms to accommodate the athletes," OEK director Angelos Economopoulos told AP.

"We will renovate them to make them into normal houses."

Mr Economopoulos said the final cost of building the Olympic Village, estimated at $384.6m, would be available next year.

Analysts fear the total bill for the Olympics game could soar to more than $9bn.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2004/10/07 16:44:01 GMT