New blow to Olympics as Athens abandons plans to build pool roof

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The Independent Online

Organisers of the Athens Olympics were forced yesterday to scrap plans to build a roof over the swimming pool, according to the BBC.

Organisers of the Athens Olympics were forced yesterday to scrap plans to build a roof over the swimming pool, according to the BBC.

It is now likely that the swimming events will be moved to later in the day to avoid the searing temperatures the Greek capital often experiences mid-summer.

The decision, taken because of fears that the pool would not otherwise be finished, prompted furious criticism from Britain's swimming chief, who said a roofless pool would mean swimmers having to compete in "pretty harsh conditions", with no protection from Athens pollution.

David Sparkes, the chief executive of British Swimming, said: "I find it amazing. It's extremely disappointing. We received assurances this week it would be resolved so this comes as quite a surprise. It doesn't reflect well on the organisation."

A plan to cover the pool with a plastic tarpaulin has also been shelved.

The organisers said in a statement: "We have come to the conclusion that the timely completion of the roof was not guaranteed." Athens will now hold the first outdoor swimming events since the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

The decision comes at the end of a terrible week for the Athens committee. Last Wednesday Greek officials said work on the Olympic stadium, where the athletics track has yet to be laid, would not be completed until three weeks before the opening ceremony. Earlier in the week, security for the games came under fire from the US and UK. The British Olympic Association's chief, Simon Clegg, warned that he would pull the British team out of the Olympics if its security was not guaranteed.

It also emerged last night that 24-hour armed protection is to be provided to all 16 football teams, including England's, at the European Championships starting in June in Portugal amid fears of a terrorist attack.

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