OPINION

In the deep end

In the final stretch to the Games, the frenetic race for the completion of Olympics-related projects has become a cliffhanger. Those who go about the streets of Athens, making their way amid the unfinished work sites, find little comfort in the reassuring comments of government officials who insist that everything will be ready on time. Besides, similar promises were not fulfilled in the past. There is little point in repeating this here, but the problem gets worse as the time frame becomes even more cramped. We have almost reached the deadline and yet no one has been held accountable for the delays. Some projects are likely to be completed only after the opening ceremony. Even if the optimistic scenario materializes and preparations are done just ahead of the Games, the problem remains, as there will be no time to test the venues or to make any necessary corrections. In other words, we will be thrown into the deep end, counting on some divine intervention to protect us against unexpected problems and complications. No doubt, preparations for the 2004 Games were a mammoth task to begin with. Corruption and the delusions of grandeur fostered by several officials pushed costs even higher. This is a very crucial aspect but it should not concern us right now. Further parliamentary and journalistic investigations should be conducted as of September. There would be little criticism were delays the exception and only concerned isolated projects. Unfortunately, they have become the rule, therefore certain ministers should be held accountable. Is it so inconceivable for the works to have been completed by the end of 2003, leaving enough time to test the infrastructure? And how can we justify leaving the refurbishment of the area in front of the Panathenaic Stadium to the 11th hour?