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Never mind the claims, hit deadlines - Sydney veteran

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FINISHING LONDON'S Olympic facilities on time is more important than risking claims from contractors, a senior official from the Sydney 2000 Games said this week.

'It is a balance between starting too early and having a lot of claims later and starting late and not testing it (the stadium), ' said Alan Patching, the man who was in charge of delivering Stadium Australia, the main venue for the Sydney Games.

He urged London's Olympic Delivery Authority to maximise time for testing and commissioning.

'We were lucky that in 2000 we had no terrorist threat. You guys do. Yet we had 18 months to test security, entry systems, infrastructure and transport. It all went like clockwork, but only because we had done it many times before, ' he said.

At most, London will have 16 months to test the main stadium which is scheduled for completion in April 2011.

Invitations to tender for the contract to design the Olympic Stadium are expected to be issued next month. Tenders for the design and build contract are due in February 2006 before construction starts in July 2008.

Patching, who now runs his own management consultancy, said this is a very tight timescale.

'Anybody who thinks the stadium doesn't need to be ready until two or three months before the Olympics has got rocks in their heads, ' said Patching.

'You have got to be looking to fi nish a year before. But that in the UK is the end of summer.

So to get some full house event testing you have to be looking at finishing 15 months out.

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