NEWS

Olympics legal obstacle course

The Coordination Commission of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) yesterday began its regular three-day inspection of progress in preparing the 2004 Athens Olympics. IOC officials expressed their concern about projects still lagging behind, such as the refurbishment of the Olympic Stadium, the construction of several sports venues on the site of the former Athens airport at Hellenikon and the construction of two tramlines. All three projects have been mired in legal disputes, the first two because construction companies left out of the deal have accused the government of bending the rules of the game and the tram because of the environmental concerns of some locals. Yesterday, officials from Athens 2004, the Games organizers, admitted for the first time that part of the main stadium’s refurbishment, including two steel-and-glass constructions designed by noted Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava to partially cover the main stadium and the cycling track, may not be completed due to lack of time. Environment and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou on Tuesday expressed her certainty that the works at Hellenikon will be completed on time. «We are not focusing on the problems but on the solutions,» chief organizer Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki told IOC members yesterday. Another legal wrangle, over work to improve the route over which the marathon will be run, erupted in Parliament yesterday. Opposition criticism focused on the legislative act used to bypass legal challenges. Former conservative PM Constantine Mitsotakis criticized President Costis Stephanopoulos for signing the act. His intervention prompted a reply by the presidency saying the president did not have to take into account the opposition’s views.