Olympic stadium roof might be scrapped

The huge steel dome of the Olympic stadium in Athens, Greece, might not be installed before the Games begin this summer. Government officials said that if the roof, which is meant to be the architectural centerpiece of the 2004 Olympics, is not installed by May 20, the $177 million project must be scrapped.

The most crucial part of the roof’s installation is the sliding of two huge arches, which will carry the 18,000-ton steel roof and hold the weight of an additional 1,000 tons of telecommunications equipment. Originally, authorities told contractors that if the installation of the arches didn’t happen by April 28, the roof would not be finished in time for the Games August 13-29. Project managers, however, said workers will begin to slide the arches into place on May 7, at the earliest, and the process will take at least two days if the weather is not windy.

A main contractor said crews are still cleaning up the site to make sure everything is in place and ready for the installation. More than 250 workers and some of the most advanced engineering equipment available will be needed.

The web-like roof, which was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Caltrava, would stretch across the Olympic stadium. Between the two arches, translucent blue carbon panels are to shade spectators from the summer sun and absorb heat by as much as 45 percent. Due to the stadium’s location, the architect designed the roof to withstand an 8.0 Richter scale earthquake and up to 75 mph winds.

If completed, the structure will be the tallest building in Rome.