NEWS

Under lock and key

Tomorrow’s first anniversary of the Opening Ceremony of the Athens Olympics will find the Olympic Stadium, like almost all other venues, under lock and key, with the majority of them having been only sparingly used since last year’s Games. The final cost of the Games is also in question, with the government having announced just on Tuesday that the «combined total cost of all activities» may reach 13 billion euros and the opposition accusing the government of politically motivated «fireworks» designed to once again put the blame on the previous, Socialist government for the country’s huge deficits. Alternate Culture Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia yesterday claimed that «important steps» had been taken to develop the existing Olympic venues, referring to the legislation adopted and the early tenders called – for the Badminton Arena in Goudi; part of the International Broadcasting Center, next to the Olympic Stadium; and the Canoe/Kayak Slalom Center at the site of the former airport at Hellenikon. Palli-Petralia blamed the lack of further progress on the previous government, which stood down on March 9, 2004, five months before the Opening Ceremony. «No one claims there were no problems, (but) these were the result of faulty planning during the preparation for the Olympics,» she said in a statement. «The new government worked methodically, planning and implementing an important amount of work, achieving tangible results,» she added. Palli-Petralia referred to the cataloging of some two million pieces of equipment and their safe transfer to regional authorities as an example of the «especially effective» cooperation among state agencies. Facilities remain locked for fear of looters and vandals, security officers told Kathimerini. However, an informal inspection of facilities at the main Olympic complex and the former athletes’ village found that security was lax. Others, like the sailing center and the Hellenikon complex were well guarded. The government has declared the period from July 28 to September 4 an «open stadiums» period. On the anniversary of the Opening Ceremony, a concert will be staged at the beach volleyball venue, starring Eurovision song contest-winner Helena Paparizou, and a party held (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) at the main Olympic complex by Kiss FM radio station.