A roofless swimming complex?

In its last session before the March 7 elections, the interministerial committee on the Athens Olympics is to convene today under Premier Costas Simitis, in a meeting expected to be dominated by concerns over the progress of key Games-related works. Yesterday, the consortium engaged in building a new shelter for the main swimming venue at the Kalogreza Olympic complex in northern Athens reportedly informed the 2004 organizing committee that it was not in a position to carry out its contractual obligations in time for the August 13-29 Games. Further, Public Works Ministry sources said the company handling works to widen a crucial eastern Attica road along which the marathon race will be run is to be «temporarily suspended» from the project. Works are already several weeks behind schedule, as the firm, European Technical SA, faces severe financial difficulties and has been unable to pay its employees and subcontractors. Another even more acute headache is posed by the giant steel-and-glass roof designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava for the main Olympic stadium at Kalogreza. Although the government insists that the 130-million-euro project is 72 percent complete, it has been held up considerably by recent bad weather. Moreover, reports say the ground around the stadium, where the four massive supports for the structure are to be set up, is unstable. The International Olympic Committee – which is sending an inspection team to Athens next week – has repeatedly expressed deep concern over the roof, calling on the government to scrap the project if it cannot be ready on schedule. Apart from construction setbacks, delays at the Olympic complex mean that none of the promised thousands of trees have been planted.