Athens struggles to prepare for 2002 Olympics

Athens is struggling to meet construction deadlines for infrastructure projects and sporting venues as an International Olympic Committee inspection team gets ready to gauge the city’s preparedness for the 2004 Games.

The IOC told Athens officials two years ago to speed up progress or risk losing the Olympics. An inspection team will visit the city again Nov. 6. Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis told his ministers Tuesday “drastic measures” might be necessary to finish projects on time.

“All projects are progressing within a very tight timetable,” government spokesman Telemachos Hytiris told Reuters Simitis said during a cabinet meeting. “There’s no alternative date to postpone the Games. The dates for the Games are fixed.”

Converting a former airport site into a multi-sport complex is still in early stages because residents’ complaints held up construction. The same thing happened to several road projects.

Simitis said red tape is a big reason for the delays. He said state agencies need to stop following the same procedures they use for common public projects.