SPORTS AND transport infrastructure for the 2004 Olympics in Athens will not be built in time, Greek government officials and construction industry experts have admitted.
And the cost of preparing for the 2004 games will soar from -4.5bn to -8bn.
With less than 1,000 days to go before the games begin - and just 20 months until trial games are scheduled - key projects are bogged down by in-fighting between the seven ministries overseeing preparations and the Athens Olympic Committee (Athoc).
Just over 30% of core Olympic projects worth -1. bn are still in bid evaluation or preliminary design phases. These include the Olympic village, media centre, equestrian centre and racetrack, shooting ranges, three stadiums, aquatic centre, gymnasium, and canoeing and sailing centres.
Many must still go through planning and public consultation processes, gain financial and environmental approvals and win a construction licence, said Ministry of Environment, Planning & Public Works general secretary for jointly funded public works, George Ganatis, speaking at the Major Construction Projects conference in Athens in November 2001.
The delays have been lengthened by conflict between the ministries of the Environment Planning & Public Works, Sports, Culture, Labour, Education, Public Organisations, and Transport & Communications.
Some projects put out to tender by one ministry are being withdrawn by another. Commercial attache to the British Embassy in Athens Sotiris Leontaris said that one scheme has so far been put out to tender three times.
Construction of outstanding Olympic projects should be getting under way now if Greece is to build high quality facilities rather than being forced to use temporary structures, Sotiris said.
But contractors, which already employ 8% of the Greek workforce and are stretched by major construction schemes being carried out with the aid of European Union finance, will be unable to deliver the Olympic infrastructure work outstanding, predicted chairman of major contractor Aktor Engineering, Dimitris Koutras.
'What should be a great opportunity may, by the end of 2004, be a lost opportunity, ' said Association of Construction Companies chairman Constantinos Kouvaras. Plans are 'over ambitious', there has been too little prediction of workload and there is now 'too little time', he added.
The combination of rushed design and hasty construction will have huge implications for the final cost of putting on the games, Koutras said. It is expected costs will almost double.
He urged ministers to draw on foreign project management and construction supervision skills in a bid to get construction schedules on track.
INFOPLUS www. athens. olympics. org