NEWS

IOC’s Oswald: Still a lot to do

The government yesterday sought to allay International Olympic Committee (IOC) fears that a monumental new roof for the Olympic Stadium may not be ready soon enough for the Games, as IOC officials in Athens expressed guarded optimism over Greece’s preparations. Denis Oswald, head of the IOC Coordination Commission for Athens, told the Assembly of National Olympic Committee officials that «Less than six months before the Games, we can only repeat that there is still a lot to do.» «But we are confident that the remaining time will be fully used,» he told ANOC delegates, «and when you come back to Greece in August you will find everything ready. We are confident, even if the schedule and the time is very tight. I would like to stress the big effort made by the Games organizers and the Greek government.» Athens 2004 Organizing Committee President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki promised that «the work will be completed at all the venues,» adding that 25 test events are still to be held at Olympic venues in the six months leading up to the August 13 opening ceremony. The Culture Ministry’s secretary-general for the Olympics, Costas Kartalis, offered assurances that the 130-million-euro steel-and-glass roof designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava for the Olympic Stadium will be ready at the end of June, despite widespread fears that this may not be possible. «I would not say it is an easy project,» he conceded. Kartalis said work will start next week to plant greenery at the Olympic Village. Yesterday, IOC President Jacques Rogge met with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and opposition leader Costas Karamanlis. Today, top IOC officials are to tour Olympic construction sites.