Olympic projects said to be on time, despite problems

The consortium building the huge steel-and-glass dome over the main Athens Olympic stadium acknowledged yesterday that it had run into problems at the site but said that it had solved them in a manner that would not prevent the project from finishing in time. Also, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said that the consortium building the roof of the Olympic swimming center had announced that it was unable to meet the technical demands of the project and that an alternative was being sought so that the roof could be completed in June. Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou said that a new contractor for the marathon route will be picked by early March and that work will be completed by early June. The current contractor, European Technical, has not been able to pay workers and subcontractors and work along the route has been frozen for the last month and a half. The consortium building the dome designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava at the Olympic Stadium – Aktor, Athena and Themeliodomi – said yesterday: «Any problems that have appeared to date were dealt with in a way that did not burden the construction deadline and would not prevent the timely completion of the project… The construction of the project is an especially difficult undertaking, combined with a specific, brief timetable for execution,» it added. Regarding sub-surface problems at the southeastern support, the consortium said, «These were neither serious nor will tens of millions of euros be needed to deal with them.» Venizelos acknowledged that the consortium building the Olympic swimming center’s roof – Gandzoulas, Intracom Construction, Diekat and Mochlos – said it was not able to carry out the difficult technical construction. «Within the next four days, we will choose another feasible solution to be ready in June or an alternative method,» Venizelos said. He stressed that this roof was not part of Athens’s contractual obligations but that «we just want to be better than our obligation.» He said the roof was being built to provide shade for television crews. The Public Works Ministry said that seven of 11 sports venues that it was responsible for had been completed. Those still outstanding were the basketball, handball and fencing venue at Hellenikon, which is to be finished by the end of May, the canoe and slalom center at Hellenikon, which is also due at the end of May, the Olympic Center at Goudi (end of April) and the tae kwon do venue at Faliron (end of February).