Today, IOC Coordination Commission Chairman, Denis Oswald, and IOC member, Prince Albert of Monaco, visited the Olympic Velodrome construction site at the Athens Olympic Sports Complex. They were accompanied by ATHENS 2004 Executive Director and COO Marton Simitsek.
Answering to journalists’ questions, Mr Oswald said: ‘I am now very optimistic. Over the past four or five weeks we have had a number of very positive elements, after some problems with the Marathon Route and the Swimming Pool roof in February. We are now in a very positive phase with very good progress in different projects. I am really confident that Athens will put on very good Games. I am impressed by the Velodrome roof. This is a very important step forward in the preparation of the Games and a demonstration that the projects are all feasible. We have no doubt that Greece will be ready on time, and the fact that we mastered challenges like this is a big encouragement for the OAKA roof. It gives us full confidence that the OAKA roof will be completed perfectly well and on time. I was here last Saturday and the roof of the Velodrome was 132 m away. On Sunday I was informed that the roof was already in place. It is truly impressive and the workers, engineers and all the people involved have done a tremendous job’.
Mr. Oswald also commented on the Sport Events, the Torch Relay, and the General Strike:
‘Last week I was in Athens for the Sport Events and spoke to the Presidents of the International Sports Federations. They all expressed their satisfaction with the quality of the venues, the staff, and the volunteers. The role of Sport Events is of course to pinpoint possible weaknesses in order to make any necessary adjustments. All the presidents told me that they did not find any major problem, which could not be corrected, there are small adjustments to make. This is what happens in any host city, and I am convinced everything will go very well’….
‘The Lighting of the Flame really showed that the Games are now very near. Everyone is preparing. I am very thrilled by the enthusiasm, which the Flame has created in Greece, it shows that the people who may have been not so strongly involved at some stage in the preparation for the Games, now feel the Games are coming home. The Greeks have the Olympic Games in their blood, and I am sure that there will be a big crowd in the stadiums this summer’….
‘The strike is a one-day strike. Our contractors said they would compensate for time lost by working overtime at the weekend. I do not think that one day will affect the preparations’.
Prince Albert of Monaco made the following statement:
‘It is particularly interesting to see how work is progressing. We are paying frequent visits to Competition Venue construction sites with Mr Oswald and other IOC Members before the Olympic Games. The Velodrome is superb, with its splendid roof that has just been slid into place by a pioneer method. I regard it as useful that we should be present to observe the progress of works during their completion phase, and I am now eagerly looking forward to the Opening Ceremony on 13 August 2004’.
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