IOC officials tour delayed 2004 venues

International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials toured several venues yesterday, including a main sports complex where persisting delays have forced organizers to reschedule some pre-Olympic events. Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou, in charge of building the complex at Athens’s old airport at Hellenikon, acknowledged delays but said all projects will be ready in time for next year’s Games. «The preparations for the Olympics are very good. This does not mean there aren’t some problems. Problems will exist until the last hour as in all cases,» Papandreou said. An IOC team toured Hellenikon and other venues on the second day of an inspection of all preparations – including sports, marketing, the budget, volunteers, and progress made in building Olympic and media villages. Construction delays at Hellenikon have worried IOC inspectors, headed by Denis Oswald. Oswald visited the rowing center at Schinias and said he was «very much impressed with progress.» «This has been one of the venues where we had difficulty at the beginning. At the moment, it is one of the best,» Oswald told The Associated Press Television News. He said it is important to maintain the pace of progress and increase it where needed. On the first day of the three-day inspection visit, the government gave the IOC a guarantee that another delayed project, a glass-and-steel roof for the main Olympic stadium designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, will be completed by May 2004. (AP)