IOC concerned about delay in building stadium’s roof

Prague – Athens Olympic organizers received a welcome boost from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) yesterday when their preparations for the 2004 Olympics were approved. IOC Executive Director for the Games Gilbert Felli said a presentation by Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki had been well received by the Games’ governing body and added he was confident everything was on track. However, with 13 months to go until the opening ceremony, Felli did stress that a number of issues still needed «close monitoring» – the roofing of the Olympic stadium, the building of the Athens suburban railway and the Karaiskaki soccer stadium. «We’ve been reviewing the progress month by month and we are generally happy,» Felli said. «What we want to make sure of is that, for the three or four projects which we feel are tight, we monitor them closely.» The proposed roofing over the Olympic stadium is one such project. Angelopoulos-Daskalaki is keen for the roof, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, to be built as a legacy to Athens. However, the IOC is anxious its construction may hamper other vital works. «The stadium does not currently have a roof and it does not need one – in Greece you don’t need a roof to protect against rain,» Felli said. «But then, at one stage, the Greeks thought that it would make a design legacy for the city – it is beautiful. But the project started late… If we don’t have a roof it is not an issue – but it is a concern because we don’t want to jeopardize other preparations.» Felli said that progress on the soccer stadium was «much better than expected.» Preparations have improved greatly after a blunt IOC reprimand earlier in the year.

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