NEWS

Late switch for stadium seats

SYDNEY (AFP) – Athens organizers have canceled a contract with an Australian firm to supply seats for the Olympic stadium just days after Canberra was accused of stirring up trouble, officials said yesterday. New South Wales-based company Starena International signed a $2.4 million (1.95-million-euro) contract in April to supply 75,000 seats for the main Olympic stadium, using its expertise in supplying seats for Sydney in 2000 and Atlanta in 1996. Starena managing director, Noel Carty, said at the time it would take a «military-style operation» to supply the seats on time for the August 13 opening ceremony. The premier of New South Wales state, Bob Carr, said he was disappointed Athens organizers had canceled the contract. He said he did not know if the decision was related to recent criticism of Australia’s decision to beef up its travel warning to Greece in the wake of three small bomb explosions outside the Kallithea police station in Athens three weeks ago. «I haven’t advice on that,» Carr told public radio. «The decision (to cancel the seats contract) had nothing to do with this issue,» said an ATHOC spokesman on condition of anonymity, without offering further details on the reasons for the cancellation. The stadium contract has now been handed to a Greek firm. «We were told to carry out the (seats) contract 10 days ago,» said Costas Mathiopoulos of Greek firm Aktor, which leads the constructors’ consortium in charge of works at the stadium. «The seats are manufactured abroad and will start arriving next week. They will all have been installed around mid-July,» Mathiopoulos told AFP.