No construction delays, government promises IOC

Government ministers yesterday assured inspectors from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that all construction projects directly or indirectly related to the Games will be completed on time, regardless of legal challenges. On the second day of the IOC Coordination Commission’s three-day inspection tour, officials were taken to see several soccer stadiums and the weightlifting arena. Commission Chairman Denis Oswald and Gilbert Felli, the IOC official responsible for the Games venues, held long talks with Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Environment and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou, her deputy Nassos Alevras and General Secretary for the Olympic Games Costas Kartalis. «Mr Oswald and Mr Felli, who accompanied him, were convinced, I think, that everything is under total control. Mrs Papandreou provided answers about Hellenikon and Goudi [sports venue sites where construction has been delayed]. I and Mr Alevras explained how we will get the timetable of the… upgrade of the Olympic Stadium under control,» Venizelos said after the talks. The refurbishment of the main stadium, including two dramatic, and expensive, steel-and-glass arches by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, has been delayed by a legal challenge, as construction firm Michaniki, which lost the bid for the project, claims the tender was rigged in favor of the eventual bid winner. The government has already indicated that it will use all legal means at its disposal to bypass these legal challenges, if necessary. Oswald expressed concern about another project, the building of two tramlines that will provide swift access to several venues. The project has been challenged by local inhabitants, claiming that it is environmentally unsound. Oswald also wanted to know to what extent new mayors in municipalities along the route who ousted pro-government incumbents in local elections last month would try to delay the project. He was assured by Venizelos that this would not occur.

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