FINA disappointed over roof scrapping

LONDON (Reuters) – Swimming’s world governing body said yesterday it was greatly disappointed that plans for a roof over the main Olympic swimming venue had been scrapped. Pressured organizers of the Athens Games said on Saturday they had abandoned plans to build a roof above the outdoor pool because there was not enough time to finish it before the event starts in August. The sport’s ruling body voiced disappointment yesterday, saying it had been guaranteed the temporary roof would be built and that it was «essential» to protect competitors and spectators from the searing Greek sun. «FINA would like to remind that one of its recommendations in the bidding documents for the Olympic Games stipulates the preference for the competition to take place in an indoor venue,» a statement said. «As this solution was not possible, FINA and (Games organizers) ATHOC decided to construct a temporary roof, as done for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.» FINA said that dating back to 2001, it had received guarantees that the roof would be constructed and that this month – just before the general election – former Greek Deputy Minister of Culture Nassos Alevras had reiterated a guarantee that it would be ready by July 15, 2004. Athens will hold the first outdoor Olympic swimming events since the 1992 Games in Barcelona. The decision to scrap the roof is the third major shift in organizers’ plans since the March 7 election. Landscaping for the start of the marathon race has also been trimmed and the Transport Ministry has scaled down the building of a rail line linking the nearby port of Piraeus to central Athens. The actions to get the Games ready on time were part of the «tough decisions» that IOC chief Jacques Rogge demanded when he met new Greek Prime Minster Costas Karamanlis a week ago.

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