NEWS

Olympic Stadium project running late

It will take a miracle to get the dome designed by Santiago Calatrava for the Olympic Stadium (OAKA) in place and the surrounding area ready in time for the August Olympics. Officials involved with Games preparations say the biggest issue is when workers will go into the stadium once the dome is completed (originally scheduled for April, now postponed till late June). As to when the electrical and mechanical installations, security systems and television broadcasting equipment will go into place, and the surrounding area is landscaped, the photographs published yesterday by Kathimerini are revealing. Those in charge have remained silent. They have already begun cutbacks and are receiving letters from international federations (such as FINA, which oversees water sports) reminding them of their commitments and deadlines. Meanwhile, seismologists have been employed, just 150 days ahead of the starting ceremony, to determine whether the dome will remain stable. Many fear that tens of millions of euros will be sunk into the stadium, while many others think that rumors about static problems with the dome (due to underground wells) are related to attempts to inflate the cost of the project by exploiting the tight deadlines. In fact, work is proceeding at a snail’s pace. Kathimerini attempted without success to contact the technical office Edafos, which carried out the studies of the ground around the stadium (on behalf of Athens 2004, according to he Culture Ministry). It also attempted, unsuccessfully, to contact the AKTOP company, which is head of the consortium that undertook to put up the dome. But it did manage to speak with several of the people who are closely following the progress of the stadium projects and are concerned about the outcome. The dome designed by Calatrava for a hefty fee (the original contract was for almost 2 million euros) is the centerpiece of the planning for the Olympic Games. The opening and closing ceremonies, and radio and television coverage rely on the stadium roof. Officials at AOB (the company dealing with television coverage of the Games) say the present schedule does not suit them, and those in charge of security systems agree.