Every second counts in race to prepare for Athens 2004 Olympic Games
Two-and-a-half days of meetings during the 11th Coordination Commission visit to Athens - the penultimate such meeting prior to the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad - allowed the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to confirm progress in some key areas, while addressing its concerns in others. Since the Commission's previous visit in April, the Athens Organising Committee (ATHOC) has hosted successful world press, broadcasters and chefs de missions meetings, and seven test events.
A productive series of meetings and working groups saw Commission members address the full range of Olympic and Paralympic Games planning and operational issues: from security to ceremonies and from transport to ticketing. Satisfaction was expressed at ATHOC's progress with regard to services provided to stakeholders, including the National Olympic Committees, International Sports Federations, the media and broadcasters. Venue tours allowed Commission members, accompanied by news media, to see firsthand the progress being made at the venues that will serve as the focus of the Games. The Commission was pleased to note progress on key projects such as the roofs for the Athens Olympic Sports Complex (OAKA) (1) venues, and also the tram and suburban rail systems, where decisions were taken following the IOC expert’s recent report. The Commission noted, however, that an exceptional rate of progress must be maintained in order for these projects to be completed on schedule, and without negatively impacting other aspects of Games preparations.
Ministers reiterated the government’s commitment to delivering facilities and infrastructure projects, and gave reassurances with regard to timely completion, providing details of work schedules.
"We have been pleased to see how much work has been carried out since our last visit, but much still remains to be done in the short time before our last visit just six months from now and only three months prior to the Games," commented Coordination Commission Chairman Denis Oswald. "With fewer than 300 days remaining, the time has come for a greater shift of emphasis from planning to operation. With construction still such a dominant theme in the preparations, great attention now needs to be paid to how all the work is integrated."
"An impressive 120,000 Greeks have applied to volunteer in helping host what I believe will be spectacular and historic Games," continued Oswald. "The IOC, ATHOC, the Greek government and local, national and international agencies are working together at full pace. Timelines remain tight and we will continue to ask our partners to seek opportunities to further accelerate the progress wherever possible. We have received reassurances on the completion schedules for the roofs at OAKA and for the tram and suburban rail systems. We look forward to seeing these key projects delivered and will be checking to see that schedules are maintained. From now until 13 August 2004, and the Opening Ceremony of the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad in Athens, every second counts."
ATHOC President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said: "Athens is getting ready for Games time. We are preparing to stage 34 more sports events - beginning this Saturday with the Triathlon World Cup - and all test events will take place at their Olympic venues. Sport events test our systems, venue teams and plans, and give us the opportunity to improve where necessary."
In the coming months, working groups of the Coordination Commission will continue to meet regularly with their ATHOC counterparts, and the entire Commission will officially reconvene in Athens in May 2004.
(1) Athens 2004 Olympic plans call for new roofs over the main Stadium, velodrome and pool complex.