Fears Calatrava roof may not materialize

As a top International Olympic Committee official yesterday hinted that the monumental new roof under construction for the main Athens Olympic stadium might have to be scrapped due to delays, the government insisted that the ambitious project will be ready on time. The soaring 130-million-euro steel and glass shelter designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava is the only work of any architectural merit Athens is to gain as a result of the 4.6-billion-euro Olympics. An elegant footbridge by the same architect, designed to span busy Mesogeion Avenue, has so far failed to get off the ground. Deputy Culture Minister for Olympic Works Nassos Alevras said that, just under six months before the Games opening ceremony, 72 percent of the work for the gigantic roof has been done. «This progress allows us to be not only optimistic but certain that the edifice will be completed according to time schedules,» he said. But in an interview published with the Swiss SonntagsZeitung newspaper yesterday, the IOC’s chief inspector for Athens, Dennis Oswald, said the roof was the only major worry on his mind ahead of the Games. «It’s very complicated and there is no space for unforeseen delays in the timetable,» he said. «But the Games can, if necessary, go ahead without this roof.» Meanwhile, sources told Kathimerini that Olympics organizers have recently hired earthquake experts to find out how the massive structure will behave during a quake, given that the ground surrounding the stadium is reported to be far from stable. But, yesterday, Alevras denied any potential geological mishaps, asserting that «reports that the work will not be completed constitute a superficial approach that has nothing to do with reality.»