SPORTS

Spending on Olympic overlays is trimmed

The final cost of Olympic overlays for the 2004 Athens Games will be 60 to 70 percent lower than the 733 million euros originally announced, according to government sources. The cost cuts were confirmed at a meeting yesterday in which Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis took part. Venizelos, the minister chiefly responsible for overseeing Olympic preparations, did not specify the amount of savings, saying he would do so after a meeting of the interministerial oversight committee on Friday. «The debate on the costs of the Olympics and the cost of Olympic overlays has advanced at a very satisfactory pace… we have arrived at commonly acceptable, rational and enforceable (solutions).» Overlays cover all kinds of venue adaptations for the Games, from laying cables for broadcasters to installing chemical toilets. Athens 2004, the Games organizers, have already published the first tenders for overlays. Venizelos also confirmed that a steel-and-glass dome over the Olympic Stadium, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, would go ahead. «There’s no doubt about the Calatrava design… The project has been checked more than four times and it’s already under construction,» Venizelos said. The Calatrava dome remains the major design construction for the Games after other projects were scrapped or curtailed for lack of money. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), however, last week expressed fear that it will not be ready on time. «The stadium does not currently have a roof and it does not need one,» IOC executive Gilbert Felli had said then.