Seven weeks before the games, it now, at last seems certain all the event sites will be ready — but some, only at the last minute.
The highway for the marathon is still being widened. Outside the main stadium there are construction cranes and dirt. But the most complex task, sliding the arched roof into place, has already been accomplished.
Inside the stadium there’s a new roof. The track has already been installed, but it’s covered over now. The grass won’t go in until after the opening ceremonies.
The biggest job left is in the stands — the seats. Only 20,000 have been installed so far, with 55,000 still to go.
But not to worry, says Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki of the Athens Olympic Organizing Committee: “We gave our promise we’ll be great for the games and that Greece would be good for the games and we will keep the promise. We will.”
Mock-competitions have already been staged to test facilities. And a new tram and light rail system is almost finished.
As the national police prepare to seal-off key areas, the commander of the nation’s bomb squads permitted an exclusive look at how they’ll X-ray suspicious items. If one looks like a bomb they’ll use water-cannons to blow it apart before it goes off.
But despite rigorous training with oversight by U.S. and others, some projects have been delayed by late construction or other problems: like a planned, vast network of security cameras and radio links. Greek officials insist it will eventually work, but others fear it will have to be scaled back.
They used to joke around here, that Beijing, China, site of the next summer games, would be ready two years early, by 2006. To which Greek officials would say, no big deal — they’d be ready as well — by 2006!
But it’s all in jest because now the punch-line no longer applies. Greece says it’ll be set to go — on time.