Nod of approval for Athens stadium

The Olympic Stadium in Athens will be given approval following an inspection by the International Association of Athletics Federations yesterday.

The Olympic Stadium in Athens will be given approval following an inspection by the International Association of Athletics Federations yesterday.

Organisers have been criticised for failing to complete venues well in advance of the Games, which start in August, and the stadium has been a focus for discontent. Two roof wings have only recently been put into position, the roof panels on one of the wings are still to be attached and the majority of seating has yet to be installed.

Nevertheless, IAAF delegate Anna Legnani, having attended the Greek Championships that are doubling up as a test event, will present a positive report when she returns to Monaco on Monday. Legnani praised the Athens 2004 local organising committee, saying: "Let's not forget that the 1997 World Championships here were brilliantly staged and, in my opinion, the best of the seven I have been involved in.

"It's not completely the same team now, but many of them do remain," Legnani said. They are highly experienced and professional people who are prepared to listen and take action on every bit of feedback they receive.

"For me everything is positive. There is some work to be completed but not a lot, and there is still some two months to the start of the Games.

"The stadium is looking very good even though a lot of it hasn't been finished," she added, while around her workers toiled in the sunshine on the stadium. Many of them were working on the blue-glass panels of the roof. The International Olympic Committee president, Jacques Rogge, has questioned whether the stylish but costly roof was necessary - the 1982 European Championships and the World Championships five years ago were successful without a roof - but work will be completed in the next three weeks.

Legnani said: "The roof is very impressive. It's difficult to judge but everything seems to be moving in the right direction."

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