November 8, 2005

Olympic stadium roof safe: Greece

ATHENS (Reuters) - The steel and glass roof built over the
main Olympic stadium in Athens just weeks before last year's
Games is safe despite the need for some minor repairs, the
government said on Tuesday.

Following a report by Germanischer Lloyd, a quality testing
and certification group, which recorded a few faults in the
massive web-like construction stretching above the
70,000-seater stadium, the government said there was no reason
for concern.

"This report was completed in February 2005 and, based on
this, what (minor repairs) needed to be done have been done,"
said deputy Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia, who was the
government's top Olympic official last year.

"The roof is safe and there is no problem as far as its
stability is concerned."

Billed as the Games' landmark and designed by famed Spanish
architect Santiago Calatrava, the roof was completed only a few
weeks before the start of the Olympics due to construction

It cost 244 million euros, some 36 percent above the
original budget.

It is the capital's tallest structure and its two huge
arches, sustaining the weight of the glass-panelled roof,
provided a spectacular backdrop for last year's Games.

The construction company working on the repairs said these
were normal for "such a unique structure."

"Such maintenance work has nothing to do with the stability
of the structure and will have to be done throughout the life
of this project, which is unique in the world," said Kostas
Mathiopoulos, Construction director at AKTOR.

The stadium hosted the athletics events during the Games
and is now used by the Panathinaikos and AEK Athens soccer
clubs, regularly attracting capacity crowds.