NEWS

Rogge airs vote of confidence

International Olympic Committee chief Jacques Rogge yesterday expressed support for Greece’s Olympic effort, amid growing fears that the execution of several crucial projects has fallen badly behind schedule. «I remain confident that our Greek friends will deliver,» Rogge told journalists in Frankfurt. «They have to work hard and fast, but if they keep up the pace, the Games will be successful.» He added that there was «no reason to be concerned» that the new 130-million-euro roof over the main Olympic stadium in Kalogreza will not be ready on time. The project has been held up by the recent bad weather, while fears have been expressed that the ground around the stadium is not stable enough to support the massive steel-and-glass structure designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. Rogge said constructors are carrying out soil tests round the stadium, and «remain optimistic.» The head of the IOC inspection team for Greece’s preparations for the Aug. 13-29 Games, Denis Oswald, has described the roof project as a persistent headache, and strongly hinted that it might be a good idea to scrap the structure altogether. Meanwhile, a World Swimming Federation (FINA) Press Commission member, Elena Vaytsekhovskaya, was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying a hitch with the shelter for the outdoor Olympic swimming complex at Kalogreza was «the least of the problems.» FINA President Mustapha Larfaoui later said she had denied making the comment. In Athens, Prime Minister Costas Simitis went on a demonstration run of the new tram line that will link the city center with the coast. He said 90 percent of the tracks have been laid, but admitted the network will be running in June, three months late.