NEWS

No roof for Olympic pool

Organizers have decided to scrap the construction of a roof over the Olympic Games’ main swimming pool due to planning delays, a major change to the Games’ venue as time runs out before they start. The Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee said in a statement on Saturday that the decision was made in order not to jeopardise the swimming events. «The International Olympic Committee was informed and asked the Greek government and Athens 2004 to work on the basis of alternative plans, without a roof, so as to ensure that there will not be negative consequences for the athletes, the competition and the television broadcasting,» Athens 2004 said. It did not say what the alternatives would be. «The experts reached the conclusion that – due to planning delays – there are no guarantees that that the roof will be in place in time, something that could place in danger holding the swimming events,» the statement said. The change in the construction plans for the Olympic swimming pool is seen as having an impact on athletes and their preparation techniques for the swimming event, one of the Games’ highest-profile sports. Senior officials from the newly elected conservative government said that it was playing safe given the tight time schedules remaining after it took office earlier this month. «The construction plan foresaw the time of completion as July 30, the same day that athletes are scheduled to start training at the pool. Consequently, any unforeseen circumstances or delays would result in the swimming event not being possible,» Alternate Culture Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia said. She pointed out that the swimming events were held outdoors at the Barcelona Games in 1992. Culture Ministry officials in the previous government were informed months ago of the contractors’ inability to complete the roof in time. Sources say that although the construction joint venture had disclosed this information, the government had insisted on promising the international swimming federation (FINA) all would be done on time.