Calatrava’s 2004 ‘dream’ in jeopardy?

Serious construction delays at the main stadium for the 2004 Olympics could cancel plans for a striking steel-and-glass dome by one of the world’s top architects, the chief international overseer has warned. The possibility of losing one of Athens’s planned showpieces sends a worrisome message that organizers may still fall short in some areas despite almost round-the-clock work in the past year. The familiar subject of construction time pressures could once again loom large when a 40-member International Olympic Committee team begins a three-day inspection visit tomorrow. But the concern doesn’t end with the stadium design, which Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava once called his «Olympic dream.» The IOC may be forced to make some critical decisions on whether to reschedule or cancel pre-Olympic test events, said Denis Oswald, the head IOC coordinator for Athens. «The Calatrava project is still a concern. The difficulty is that we cannot start if we are not sure that we will finish on time,» Oswald told The Associated Press on Friday during preparations for the inspection visit. The stadium design includes two steel arcs above the 80,000-seat stadium. Strands of translucent glass between the beams would let the light in and keep heat out, according to Calatrava. The complex was to be ready a few months before the Games start on August 13, 2004. Calatrava did not immediately return calls to his office in Zurich, Switzerland. Another area of concern for Oswald is the sports complex at the former international airport southeast of central Athens. It will house various sports including basketball preliminaries, canoe and kayak, softball, baseball and hockey. Oswald said construction contracts have just been signed. «It’s always good that we come (to Athens) because it puts some pressure. And as a kind of miracle… a lot of things happen,» he said. Delays at other venues, including the wrestling arena, may also pose complications for planned test events. «A number of test events will have to be probably postponed or readjusted,» Oswald said.