Athens Games Set to Cost More, Say Officials

Publication Date: 
Wed, 2004-03-31 03:00

ATHENS, 31 March 2004 — Several Athens Olympics projects have exceeded initial costs by up to 50 percent, increasing the likelihood of the Games exceeding its 4.6 billion euro ($5.60 billion) budget, Greek government officials said yesterday.

Deputy Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia said a review of venue construction projects found many to be over budget, in addition to well-publicized delays.

“I cannot yet offer an estimate on whether the overall budget is heading upwards, we have to look at all the accounts. From first inventories, it turns out there are overruns,” Petralia told a news conference.

“The budgets of many projects have been revised upward. The previous government had lost control, they did not have a real picture of what was going on,” she said.

Greece’s new Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis ordered a radical shake-up of Games organization days after he took over from the previous Socialist government and had several projects either scrapped or scaled down to make up for delays.

A senior Finance Ministry official told Reuters yesterday the overall Olympic costs was likely to exceed the 4.6 billion euro budget set by the previous government.

“The total cost of the Games will exceed that, not by much, but there will be overruns,” said the official, who declined to be named. “We will have a complete picture after Easter as we are currently collecting data.”

The 4.6 billion euro bill includes costs of venues as well as key infrastructure such as improvements in public transport. The Athens 2004 organizing committee has a budget of around two billion euros that will cover operating costs and is due to be balanced by revenues from sponsors, TV rights and ticket sales.

According to data released by Petralia, the costs of work carried out on venues reviewed so far had for the most part risen in a range of 16 to 50 percent over initial estimates.

On the high end of the scale is what organizers call the ‘aesthetic unification’ of the Olympic Stadium complex, including a landmark steel and glass roof designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, where costs have gone from an original total of 250 million euros to 380 million.

The grandiose Calatrava structure has long been a major headache for officials who fear it could delay other work on and around the venue, which hosts the Games’ opening ceremony, but Petralia said the stadium should be ready by the end of June.

The Culture Ministry said in a statement that it was currently talking to contractors to try to trim costs where possible.

Petralia added that the new government had inherited delays which could jeopardize the Games and defended what she said were “the best decisions under the circumstances”, such as scrapping plans to build a roof over the main swimming pool.

Vancouver Gets a Blueprint to Deliver 2010 Olympics on Time

In Vancouver, Canada, aiming for a problem-free games, a team from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) began intense meetings yesterday with Canadian organizers of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The IOC will provide detailed instructions to host the Games over three days this week, said John Furlong, who was appointed CEO of the Vancouver 2010 committee in February.

Throughout the next six years, a special IOC Vancouver Coordination Commission will track progress with constant reports from Vancouver. “Not a day goes by that we don’t talk to somebody at the IOC,” said Furlong at a press conference.

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