Story by Michael Okuley
The Olympic Stadium in the Greek capital of Athens has been temporarily shut down due to concerns about the safety of its roof. This iconic venue, with a seating capacity of nearly 70,000 spectators, stands as Greece’s largest after undergoing extensive renovations for the Athens 2004 Olympics and Paralympics. During these Games, it notably hosted the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, as well as various athletic and football events.
Scheduled for its first major renovation since the Athens 2004 Games, the Athens Olympic Sports Complex (OAKA) recently disclosed that inspections have revealed safety issues with the distinctive roof, designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. Simultaneously, the Athens Olympic Velodrome at the OAKA, which was utilized for track cycling during Athens 2004, has also been closed temporarily after facing similar concerns regarding its roof.
A subsequent inspection is planned to delve deeper into the safety concerns, and OAKA has emphasized that its top priority is ensuring the well-being of both athletes and fans. As a result, the stadium and velodrome will remain closed until these safety issues are thoroughly addressed.
The Hellenic Olympic Committee (EOE) said the OAKA must continue to be “the heart of Greek sports”, and called for safety issues to be resolved quickly.
“Its firm position is that, in addition to the creation of sports facilities, care must also be taken for their maintenance in order to keep them in the best possible condition and safely host athletes,” it said.
“At the same time, they should be equipped with modern equipment according to the requirements and development of each sport.
“[The EOE] agrees with the decision of the Minister of Sports, as the safety of the athletes, athletes, fans and workers in the venues is a priority and should not be jeopardized for any reason or purpose.
“[The EOE] requests to speed up the procedures and studies for the stability of the Calatrava constructions, in order to immediately start the restoration works – in case they are required – for the smooth and safe operation of the OAKA.”
The Olympic Stadium, opened in 1982 in time for the European Athletics Championships, has hosted several major events including the 1991 Mediterranean Games, 1997 World Athletics Championships and men’s UEFA Champions League finals in 1994 and 2007.