IOC ACKNOWLEDGES PROGRESS IN ATHENS BUT CALLS FOR SUSTAINED EFFORTS IN CONSTRUCTION
Athens, 23 November 2001 - The sub-group of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission for the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad concluded its work today in Athens after one and a half days of constructive meetings. The sub-group, comprising five members of the Coordination Commission and experts in various fields, met with the Organising Committee for the Olympic Games Athens 2004 (ATHOC) and representatives of the ministries to review the state of preparations in several areas including transportation, construction, the Olympic Village, venue operations and accommodation.
Progress has been made since the full Coordination Commission meeting last September, with construction work being started at a number of key Olympic venues. This was facilitated by improved integration of project management and monitoring between ATHOC and the government. However, it was noted that there was still a great amount of work to be accomplished in a very short time.
The group first heard a comprehensive report by the relevant ministries of the Greek government on transportation. Despite strong commitment to provide reliable transport infrastructures, some key projects, such as the Varis-Koropiou and Marathon road, the tramway and sections of the suburban railway, which are essential for providing spectator access to many of the Olympic venues, remain a challenge due to tight time limits.
It was noted that the activities linked to venue construction had increased in the last two months. However, concerns were raised regarding various projects such as Helliniko, Faliro and Markopoulo, for which most of the construction work must start no later than April 2002. The working group reiterated the need to have these venues ready by summer 2003 when a number of test events are scheduled. These dates represent crucial milestones and must be respected in order to provide enough time to implement any changes that might be needed before the Games.
As for accommodation, 12,000 beds have been secured in seven Media Villages but it was stressed that, for some of them, administrative procedures must still be completed by the end of the year . The overall hotel situation remains uncertain with a shortage of rooms. The sub-group of the IOC Coordination Commission insisted on the need for construction of new property to start no later than March 2002 to meet the full accommodation requirements during the Games. The working group also underlined the importance of upgrading the general infrastructure of the port of Piraeus. All necessary action has been determined; this represents a considerable amount of work.
“2002 will be the year of building” said Mr Denis Oswald, Chairman of the Coordination Commission. “We are pleased with the start of construction work at venues such as the Olympic Village, the Main Press Centre and the International Broadcast Centre. Similarly, we look forward to seeing important venues arising from the ground soon. Greece and its population are starting to feel the reality of the Games. All efforts must be sustained to allow constructions to be ready on time”, he added.
Earlier this morning, Mr Oswald paid a visit to the Greek Prime Minister, Mr Constantine Simitis. He also met with Mrs Vasso Papandreou, Minister for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public works; Mr Evangelos Venizelos, Minister for Culture; and Mr Christos Verelis, Minister for Transport and Communications.
"The recent reshuffle of the Greek government shows a strong will towards efficient management of Olympic undertakings. The Prime Minister assured me again of his full commitment to complete all Olympic projects in due time" said Mr Oswald following his visit.