2004 project faces ban threat

In what could prove to be a severe blow to Greece’s lumbering preparations for the 2004 Olympics, the Supreme Court has ruled against plans to build a major media village in Maroussi, northern Athens, according to court sources yesterday. The country’s highest administrative court reportedly rejected as unconstitutional and illegal a ministerial decision that allowed construction of the complex – which is meant to host some 4,000 foreign journalists covering the 2004 Games – near the Spyros Louis Olympic Stadium. The media village is being built by Lamda Olympic Village, a Latsis group subsidiary. Sources said the ministerial decision contravened Article 24 of the Constitution on environmental protection by doubling the maximum size of buildings allowed in the area and permitting construction of a large complex in a part of town reserved for housing. The court also reportedly ruled that planners had failed to provide an environmental impact study for the project. The government appeared unruffled. Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, whose brief includes sports, refused to comment on the ruling, arguing that it has not yet been officially published. «When the decision is published, we will look at it and comply with it,» he told journalists after an interministerial meeting yesterday on the state of Greece’s preparations for the Games. «It is a complex legal matter, but, obviously, we will do what the Constitution and the law dictate. There are alternative solutions.» He did not elaborate. After Olympics-related works picked up steam again this year, following renewed delays, International Olympics Committee officials have repeatedly stressed that there is now no margin for error in Greece’s preparations.