IOC sees further momentum in Athens but concerns remain on accommodation resources
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.
Accommodation was the group’s primary source of concern with little substantial progress made since November and an estimated overall shortage of 3000 hotel rooms for Games-time needs still apparent in the Attica region. The group emphasised the need to find solutions, whether through signing additional hotels, developing new properties or securing cruise ships. The potential excessive inflation of prices for existing hotels was also raised as a major concern.
“We were given assurances by the Greek Government that final solutions will be presented on accommodation at the time of the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City,” said Mr. Denis Oswald, chairman of the Coordination Commission. “We emphasised to the government the importance of supporting this process in the interest of meeting the needs of all those coming to Athens for the Games.”
Comprising experts in various fields, the group met with the Organising Committee for the Olympic Games Athens 2004 (ATHOC) and representatives of the relevant ministries of the Greek government to review progress since the last sub-group visit in November 2001. The meetings focussed on several areas including accommodation, construction, the Olympic Village and transportation.
Positive progress was reported on the development of seven media villages in new and existing structures, with the group highlighting the projects in Maroussi and Selete as critical due to their proximity to the Main Press Centre and International Broadcast Centre. It is now felt confident that the necessary contingent of media accommodation has been secured.
"We were particularly happy to see the progress in the construction of the Olympic Village, even if the finalisation of the International Zone is still pending" said Mr Oswald, "We certainly look forward to seeing more of the same at various key Sports Venues next April.”
For the most part, venue construction and transport infrastructure projects are progressing, with minimal delays reported on a few select venues since last November. The continued integration of project management and monitoring between ATHOC and the government has been a key factor in maintaining schedules. The group remains cognisant that the overall volume of work on tight deadlines presents numerous challenges which must be closely followed.
The group heard a report by the ministries on transportation and road construction projects under their responsibility. The group expressed disappointment and concern regarding the construction of the Kifissias Avenue interchanges. Focus was again on challenges presented by the Northern section of Varis-Koropiou and widening of Marathon roads as well as metro line improvements, the tramway and suburban railway constructions, which are all crucial for providing spectator access to many of the Olympic venues. The resulting urban and suburban infrastructure enhancements will be one of the greatest legacies of the Games for the City of Athens.
Earlier this morning, Mr Oswald paid a visit to the responsible ministers including Mrs Vasso Papandreou, minister for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public works; Mr. Akis Tsochantzopoulos, minister of Development; Mr Evangelos Venizelos, minister for Culture; and Mr Christos Verelis, minister for Transport and Communications, Mr. Nasos Alevras, under minister for Public Works, and Lefteris Tziolas, deputy minister of Labour.
“Globally, we are satisfied that the cruising speed reached in November has been kept, but a lot of projects are still very tight due to time lost early in the organisation. We consider the situation will be at risk until the opening of the Games, because we have no reserve of time for unexpected delays. It is therefore very important for us to continue to monitor the schedules,” Mr. Oswald said at the conclusion of the visit.