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Greece Cancels National Gymnastics Championships
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The Greek gymnastics federation announced Tuesday it has cancelled this month's national championships, leaving its top stars shocked and frustrated with the decision. Pictured: 2010 world floor exercise champion Eleftherios Kosmidis recites the athletes pledge at the 2013 World Championships in Antwerp.

The Hellenic (Greek) Gymnastics Federation announced Tuesday it has cancelled the upcoming national championships, leaving its top stars shocked and frustrated with the decision.

"All I can say is that everything seems to go from bad to worse," rings specialist Eleftherios Petrounias told Greek media on Tuesday. "We didn't even know the basics. Seriously we didn't ever expect that we wouldn't even have the chance to compete at the Greek championships, even traveling at our own expense."

The federation cancelled the event after the Greek Olympic Committee urged a boycott Monday of all national sports competition from April 12-13, to protest the Greek government's actions amid the nation's ongoing financial crisis.

"The council of the Greek Olympic Committee decided unanimously to recommend to all amateur sports federations in the country that they suspend all competitive activities for the weekend of April 12-13, due to the huge problems Greek sports continue to undergo after the consistent refusal of the government to provide solutions not only to economic issues, but mainly to institutional problems," the Greek Olympic Committee announced on its website on Monday. "The recommendation for the suspension is a first measure ... to protest the continued inaction and indifference shown by the government toward the country's youth, who risk being deprived of important social services, such as sports."

The 2014 Greek Gymnastics Championships were to take place April 12-13 in Thessaloniki, where hundreds of gymnasts were to compete at multiple levels. Additionally, the event was supposed to serve as a qualifier for next month's European championships in neighboring Bulgaria.

Following the announcement from the Greek Olympic Committee, the board of the Hellenic Gymnastics Federation held an emergency meeting Tuesday and decided to join the boycott.

"With this decision, the board of the Hellenic Gymnastics Federation hopes to finally wake up minds, that state agencies need to take action and provide solutions to the enormous economic and institutional problems in Greek sports," the federation said in a statement.

2010 world floor exercise champion Eleftherios Kosmidis said the decisions of both governing bodies have left the athletes to suffer.

"Everyone is to blame," Kosmidis said. "It starts with the sports leadership and ultimately the athletes pay the price. Everybody is at fault."

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