NEWS

Oswald sets end June to finish stadium roof

The chief IOC overseer for the Athens Olympics, Denis Oswald, has rejected the proposed date for the completion of the steel and glass roof over the main stadium in Athens, saying that instead of July 20 the roof must be ready by the end of June. Oswald, on a two-day inspection of Athens’s preparations, made his demand in an interview with The Associated Press’s Lisa Orkin. Oswald said he «cannot accept» any work on the dome, designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, after the end of June. «All work at the roof must be finished at the end of June,» he said at the end of his visit. This date is the deadline that the previous government had announced, but the contractor building the roof said it would be ready on July 20, just three weeks before the August 13 opening ceremony. Oswald told the AP that the next key date for the stadium roof is April 28, Oswald said. This is when the two huge arches have to be in place or the translucent strands intended to link the arches will be canceled, he said. Oswald said he was reassured by the conservative government which replaced PASOK after the March 7 elections. «I think this government now is in a position to be totally realistic,» he said, adding that the former government had a tendency «to be optimistic» and that its «assessment was probably less precise. Now we really have a good timetable.» Evangelos Venizelos, PASOK’s former top official for the Olympics, was quick to shrug off the criticism. «I wish patience, cool-headedness and success to the current ministers who are in charge of Olympic preparations and are now getting to know Mr Oswald and style in which he makes statements, which change according to the news medium to which he speaks,» he said.