Olympic Swim Center Roof Will Be Ready, FINA President Says Amid Growing Concern -- February 23, 2004
ATHENS, February 22. FINA -- swimming's international governing body -- disassociated itself last Friday from what it characterized as "wrong and unauthorized comments" by Elena Vaytsekhovskaya, a FINA press official. Vaytsekhovskaya had said that Greek Olympic organizers should scrap plans to build a roof for the aquatic center.
Broadcasters had warned that a planned roof did not cast enough shadow to guarantee top-quality television pictures from the pool, one of the most popular Olympic sports.
FINA President Mustapha Larfaoui, who was in Athens for an inspection of Olympic facilities, said the federation believed the roof was essential for the conduct of events.
"We need the roof for everyone involved and are very optimistic it will be ready on time," Larfaoui told reoporters, it what clearly was damage-control mode. "We are very happy with the facilities we have seen on our tour."
Earlier, Vaytsekhovskaya said the roof was the least of organizers' problems.
In a scathing commentary, Vaytsekhovskaya noted: "If they manage to get water in the pool then we'll be happy."
But Larfaoui said: "This official has no right to speak on FINA matters and indeed she says her comments were not made."
Games organizers are rushing to complete several sports venues less than six months before the Olympics in August.
Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, the government's top Olympics official, told reporters this week there was a problem with the planned roof. "An alternative solution which will be completed by June," he said.
Venizelos rejected suggestions that the government should have detected the problem earlier.
"I must remind you that we are under no obligation to cover the swimming center. It is just that we want to be better than our contractual obligations," he told reporters.