ATHENS: Greece unveiled its “jewel” of an athletes’ village on Thursday, the Games’ biggest single construction project.
After years of delays and several changes to architectural plans, a smiling Athens Games chief Gianna Angelopoulos received the golden key to the 2,292-apartment complex northwest of the capital.
“It is not only the most spacious but the most beautiful Olympic Village in the history of the Games,” said Angelopoulos. “This is a jewel.”
The 366-building complex on 400 acres of public land at the foot of Mount Parnitha will house more than 17,000 athletes and officials and will employ 10,000. Officially it will open to national teams on July 30, two weeks before the start of the Aug 13-29 Olympics.
Access roads from the main Olympic complex to the village have also been completed, reducing travel time to and from the stadium to about 15 minutes.
This will be the first time all athletes, including the US basketball team, will stay at the Olympic Village since the 1992 Barcelona Games.
With a population the size of a small town, the village will also feature the capital’s only places of worship for all five main religions, accommodating Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews and Hindus.
Athletes will also be able to use several indoor and outdoor training facilities on site and at the nearby Dekelia airbase.
“It is the first time that the athletes will be able to train so near to the place they live. It is unique,” Angelopoulos said.
While construction of the village, plagued by delays after Athens won the bid in 1997, is finished, workers are still planting trees and bushes in an effort to create a lush Athens suburb by the end of the month.
“Tomorrow the first national team chiefs will arrive here to finalise their accommodation arrangements. We are ready and we are the hosts of the biggest celebration,” she said. – Reuters