Swimming venue roof ‘necessary’

A troubled Olympic project to build a shelter over an open-air swimming venue at the main Kalogreza complex must definitely go ahead, International Swimming Federation (FINA) officials said yesterday, days after the government had played down the problem as «a very minor issue.» For some time, International Olympic Committee officials had been expressing misgivings over work on the shelter – which is intended to provide better conditions for TV coverage while protecting spectators and athletes from the scorching August sun. On Tuesday, the government admitted the constructors said they would be unable to build the it according to existing plans. At the same time, ministers promised a solution would be announced by the end of the week. Yesterday, the Athens 2004 organizing committee quoted FINA head Mustapha Larfaoui as saying that «the shelter is necessary for the Games and we are optimistic that it will be ready on time.» FINA Executive Director Cornel Marculescu said the structure is needed «not only for the requirements of TV coverage but also to protect athletes and spectators from the August sun and heat.» On Tuesday, government officials said the shelter was not for the swimming venue itself but for television needs, and «a very minor issue.» On Thursday, FINA press commission member Elena Vaytsekhovskaya said the roof was «the least of the problems,» but Larfaoui quickly disassociated FINA from the comments, which he said Vaytsekhovskaya had denied making. Meanwhile, yesterday PM Costas Simitis discussed Olympic security with visiting NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. «Greece is obliged to cooperate with all international organizations that can contribute to [handling terrorist acts during the Games],» he said.