The fate of the costly roof is hanging by a thread

The fate of Calatrava’s roof for the Olympic Stadium is hanging by a thread. Problems caused by the foundations and bad weather will make Greece look bad in the international public eye if work doesn’t speed up. The metal structure has already been manufactured, but little progress has been made since last August, when the first arch was installed. Some say there are still problems with welding the arches and with other parts of the metal frame, which may have to be altered if studies show that the soil composition differs from that recorded in the initial study. Calatrava’s original study, which Venizelos described as being «a complete civil engineer’s study» ready for implementation and «highly detailed» has undergone a number of alterations. The glass for the dome was replaced by other material because of the risk of injury if it were to break. During the official presentation of his design, Calatrava explained: «To understand the extent of this project, I’ll give you an example. Three folders, each weighing a ton, were submitted.» It seems that the three tons did not include data about the soil composition of the site. The authorities suddenly realized that special stakes were needed to deal with problems associated with the granite beneath the stadium. The project was assigned directly, despite the opposition of those who believed there should have been a tender, and many engineers believe that only part of the project will be completed. The technocrats on the International Olympic Committee stated last summer that if the government couldn’t be sure of completing the work on time, it should not continue with it. On his visits to Greece, Denis Oswald, president of the IOC’s Coordination Commission for Athens, has repeated the Greek government’s promises to complete the project on time. Kathimerini tried to contact Oswald but his colleagues said «he is not making statements because it is election time in Greece.» The IOC did intervene in the case of the roof, noting that a less costly solution should be found, which did eventuate. The final cost of the Olympic Stadium roof is not known, but it is certain to be higher than the original figure of 130 million euros. Realists say that what matters is that the project is completed on time, before late June: «Only then can we be sure that – by an immense effort – all the other auxiliary installations such as security systems and electrical and mechanical fittings will be put in,» say the engineers. As for the rehearsals of people involved in the opening and closing ceremonies, most will be held outside the stadium.