Athens' lack of progress concerns IOC; venues, security behind schedule

It all evolves with mathematical precision:

Speaking at a news conference after an IOC executive board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, [IOC chairman Jacques] Rogge delivered a warning to the Greeks similar to one his predecessor, Juan Antonio Samaranch, issued in April 2000. Samaranch said Athens' Olympic organization was the worst he had seen in 20 years as IOC president [Italics mine].

Was there any doubt from the beginning? Did the IOC gang truly believe that Dodo Yodo Yianna's Cretan eyes alone (and a few million dollars in party money from her husband) could actually ensure that this huge business of the "games" could be organized by a country with the lengthiest tradition of untold disarray, miserable bureaucracy, and a battalion of professional malingerers and thieves at the wheel?

Rogge and Denis Oswald, head of the IOC commission overseeing preparations for the Games, cited three areas of specific concern:

The government has yet to sign a contract for security equipment.

A total renovation of Athens' main soccer venue is far from under way.

Work at several other sports venues is far enough behind to jeopardize planned test events at those sites and the amenities at the venues for the Olympics.

While the security contract is the single biggest ticket item (estimated to approach $1 billion / $1 billion, and not just $600 million) of the whole mess to be in imminent danger, the overall picture of "Olympic" construction is even scarier. Local news is abuzz with horror stories of collapsing highways and substandard public works, most of which took 10 and 20 years to "finish." Building for the Athens 2004 Fiasco is mostly in the hands of the same contractors presently seeing their handiwork elsewhere implode and disintegrate due to poor workmanship, cutting corners, bad engineering, and deep-pocket corruption. Who can ensure that "Olympic works" being built infinitely more presing time frames -- literally on the fly --with a swarm of foreign unskilled labor, won't suffer the same or even worse fate? A big, big question of quality assurance and pure safety of the facilities...

Oswald said delays at other unspecified construction sites may cause eight test events to be run at non-Olympic venues.

The IOC also is concerned that some roads may not be finished, which will have significant impact on plans to reduce the notorious Athens traffic during the Olympics.

Oswald nearly had a heart attack when, during a recent visit, he hopped in a car and headed for venues "under construction" without Dodo Yodo in tow. He saw holes in the ground (full of mud waters), he saw a sprinkling of mainly Albanian and Asian workers idling in the rain, he saw a few earth movers with engines off, and returned to his hotel in "a state of fury." There must be something VERY big that kept him from choking Dodo Yodo, Venizelos, and the rest of the sorry Greek troupe...

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