19/04/2012 11:59 BST

London 2012 Olympics: Locog's Rejection Of Ancient Greek Ship Threatens To Spark Diplomatic Row

London 2012 organisers have sparked a diplomatic row after refusing a gift from the Greek government - because of health and safety.

Locogs has decided not to accept a replica of an ancient Hellenic ship which was to be rowed along the Thames by 170 Londoners whilst transporting the Olympic flame.

The historic ceremony would link the London Games with the Athens Olympics of 2004 where it was also used. It was Greece's only official contribution to the games.

However according to emails seen by the Financial Times, it's been decided the ceremony should be scrapped over health and safety fears.

A source close to the discussions told the newspaper that organisers had feared the sight of the 70ft barge would unleash chaos along the Thames with overcrowding and traffic jams. Some officials even worried that Olympic hysteria would cause spectators to throw themselves onto the boat.

“It is a risk we are just not able to take at this time" Locogs says in the emails, reported the FT.

The boat is a replica of Olympias, an Athenian trireme that classicists say was used at the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC. It is heralded as a pioneering example of archaeology and naval engineering.

Adding to its status, some £150,000 has already been spent refurbishing the ship in preparation for the Games by the International Advantage Corporation, a US exhibits and entertainment distributor, the Telegraph has reported.

The Greek defence minister is planning to make a complaint to Boris Johnson, London 2012 boss Lord Coe, and the UK government following Locog's withdrawal.