A somewhat misleading article by the Daily Telegraph about the New Acropolis Museum in Athens. The article accuses the Greeks of destroying archaeological remains on the site, but anyone who studies the case in detail will see that every possible action was taken to avoid such a thing happening. Wherever you dig in a city as old as Athens you are going to be close to important remains – in this case though, they have been turned into a political argument, both between the three largest Greek parties & between Greece & Britain.
Daily Telegraph 
Is Athens’ Olympic dream turning to dust?
The city is still a giant building site as many projects for this summer’s games, including the stadium’s crowning glory, remain uncompleted. Giles Worsley reports
There are two things you notice as you arrive in Athens late at night. The first is an impressive motorway, completed earlier this year, which whisks you into the city from the large new airport opened in 2001. The second is that all the cars parked along the side of the streets seem to be covered in dust. Athens has become a vast building site as the Greeks race to make the city ready for the Olympics, which open in less than four months. What you do not see from the motorway by night, though they are prominent landmarks by day, are the two great arches that should already support the Olympic Stadium roof. Whether that will be finished for August 13 will probably be the most nail-biting race in the whole games.
The Athens Olympics were supposed to be the moment when the Greeks proved once and for all that they were an efficient European country, and when they shamed the British into handing back the Elgin Marbles. Architecture was critical to their vision, particularly the New Acropolis Museum, planned as a masterly propaganda stroke. With the attention of the world focused on Athens, the Greeks would be able to parade the world’s press round a glistening new museum designed within sight of the Parthenon by the fashionable Swiss deconstructivist Bernard Tschumi. Faced by a beautiful gallery, silent and empty, awaiting the Elgin Marbles, journalists would pour out acres of enraged newsprint, the British government would be so humiliated that its resolution would crack, and the British Museum would be forced to hand the marbles back.
But get out at Akropoli on the new metro and walk down Stratigou Makrygianni and all you will see is a large hoarding. The Greeks have gone strangely quiet about the New Acropolis Museum and if you climb up and look over the hoarding you will see why. All there is to show the world’s press when they arrive in August is a very deep hole.
It is a hole that went straight through some precious archaeology, and accusations have been flying that careful excavation to uncover the Byzantine, Hellenistic and Ancient Greek remains was abandoned in the politically driven rush to build the museum. All for nothing. The damage has been done but there is not a single wall to show for it. Now the future of the New Acropolis Museum is mired in the courts, and with the new deputy culture minister Petros Tatoulis in charge – the man who, as an opposition MP, led the attack on the project – further work looks unlikely. The Greeks could hardly have shot themselves more effectively in the foot. Their reputation for careful stewardship of their heritage, central to their argument to reclaim the marbles, is in tatters.
The New Acropolis Museum is not the only cultural project that will not be ready for the Olympics. The National Archaeological Museum, one of the treasure houses of the world, has been closed since 2002 for a complete refurbishment and was meant to be opened with grand fanfare in time for the Olympics. The work is still unfinished, although, as a temporary measure, one floor will be opened with a selection of the finest pieces for visitors to the games.
Other ambitious plans have bitten the dust, had to be cut back or are not yet complete. A scheme for a series of dramatic pedestrian bridges has been abandoned for reasons of cost, and the ambitious integrated transport system of trains, metro and trams will not be quite as integrated as hoped. The light rail system linking the airport to the metro, and so to the city, is not yet working, though hopes are high that it will be ready in time.
But ultimately what matters at the Olympics are the facilities for the players. They can rest assured that the Olympic Village is ready, nearly 3,000 apartments over 124 acres in the foothills of Mount Parnithia.
But the Athens Olympic Sports Complex (OAKA), surrounded on two sides by busy highways and on a third by a half-built housing estate, remains a large building site. Getting there is not easy. The new metro station that is meant to serve it is unfinished, which means a long, hot walk back from the next stop. It is only one of a number of key metro stations that remain unfinished.
There are signs of hope at OAKA. The white lines have been drawn on the tennis courts, so there should be no problem for tennis players.
Cyclists should also be pleased. No modern sports event, be it World Cup or Olympic Games, is complete without an eye-catching building, and for the Athens Olympics the authorities turned to the Spanish architect-engineer Santiago Calatrava.
Calatrava, with his organic approach to structure, is the master of the grand architectural gesture. His buildings are like the bleached bones of giant dinosaurs and sea beasts littering the landscape.
The Velodrome, for the bicycle races, at the western end of the Olympic site, resembles a giant trilobite. Huge, low-slung arches swing from one end to the other supporting a complex, lattice-work roof. It is a striking, dramatic building, just the right image for a modern sporting event. Though workmen are still fixing the final elements of the roof, it should be finished in time. On the other hand, plans to roof over the swimming pool have been abandoned and it is anyone’s guess as to whether the roof of the Olympic Stadium will be completed in time.
Here security is tighter. Though there is little to stop anyone who looks confident from walking on to the rest of the site, when you try and take a photograph of the stadium from the roadside, a security guard on a scooter zooms up and forces you back into path of the oncoming traffic.
For sensible reasons of economy, the Greeks decided not to build a new stadium but to upgrade an old one erected for the European Track and Field Championships in 1982. What it needed was a roof to shelter competitors and spectators from the fierce heat of the Greek August sun. Calatrava won the competition with an eye-catching image that should look good on television.
Two giant 80-metre arches have gone up from which adjustable giant sun screens are being hung. These are not, however, being built over the stadium, as you might expect, but at the north and south ends. The idea is to roll them into place over the stadium on great bogies along special railway tracks.
All this should have been finished by March, allowing time to make finishing touches, test the adjusting mechanism, install security and do some landscaping. But though the arches are up, the sunscreens are far from completion. If there is a rush, it is hard for the spectator to spot it, though union officials are worried that corners are being cut in the drive for completion. Already more than a dozen workmen have died in the preparations for the Athens Olympics. Only one worker died in the run-up to the games in Sydney.
The roof is scheduled for completion on July 20, less than a month before the games, a date that leaves little leeway if there are problems. Even when the structure is completed, there remains the fiendishly tricky engineering feat of sliding the arches over the stadium, something that can be done only in optimum conditions with no wind. The risk in sliding a structure of this weight and scale is that the alignment slips slightly and the whole arch jams. Unsurprisingly, the Greek Olympic authorities are refusing to say when the move will happen – the last thing they want is a disaster caught on film.
The deputy culture minister for Olympic preparations, Fanni Palli-Petralia, announced gnomically on April 17 that preparations to slide the 19,000-ton roof had begun. “The process for the sliding has started. We will wake up one morning and find the roof in position.”
But will it be before or after the Olympics? It is telling that the Olympic Commissioner who has been most vocal in driving the Greeks on has begun to say that the Olympics could still be held in the stadium even if the roof is not in place.
So, if you are planning to go, remember to take lots of water and a large sun hat, and do not expect many records to be broken. Those require perfect conditions, and it looks unlikely that these will be in place for August.