Monday, July 28, 2003

Danish IOC member tells regional governments to stay out of Greek brothel flap

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The president of Denmark's Olympic Committee on Friday chided Nordic and Baltic governments for criticizing a decision by Greek authorities to increase the number of brothel permits before the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

"It's totally nonsense that some governments mingle in other countries' affairs," said Kai Holm, president of Denmark's National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark. "Prostitution is legal in Greece and that's it."

On Wednesday, the ministers for gender equality from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania sent a letter to the mayor of Athens expressing their "abhorrence" over plans to increase the number of brothel permits ahead of the games.

Athens authorities, led by the city's first female mayor, Dora Bakoyianni, argue that proper regulations before the Olympics are needed to stop illegal prostitution from expanding during the games. But critics claim the new rules, which increase the number of permits, will result in a greater number of prostitutes in the city for the Olympics.

In June, Athens began closing substandard brothels and said it would limit the number of establishments to 230.

The Danish Minister for Social Affairs and Gender Equality, Henriette Kjaer, didn't sign the Nordic and Baltic letter, calling the action "childish."

Holm said Danish athletes are not allowed to visit prostitutes during an international competition and would be sent home immediately if they did. "This is just part of the normal code of conduct for athletes," Holm told The Associated Press from Portugal where he attended an IOC meeting. "To my knowledge, Danish athletes always have behaved themselves."

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Created: January 9, 2004
Last modified: January 17, 2004
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