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Olympic Rowing Venue Raises Concern Among Environmentalists - 2002-09-11


An environmental group says deterioration of the ecosystem near the Athens 2004 Olympic rowing center may become visible long before the games. Environmental groups and archaeologists have strongly opposed to construction of the rowing venue in Schinias, a popular beachfront area about 30-kilometers northeast of Athens. They say the facility will endanger birds, fish and a rare species of pine and will encroach on the site of the 490 BC Battle of Marathon, the namesake for the modern foot race.

Theodota Nantsou, spokeswoman for the World Wide Fund for Nature, said new cafes planned in the area, along with grandstands and other buildings, will upset the sensitive balance of the marshland ecosystem.

Olympic organizers dispute the claims. The organizers are under pressure to complete several venues in time for the Olympic games.

A section of the $76 million rowing venue project was halted about one month ago after government-employed archaeologists found two foundations of 4,000-year-old dwellings. But a top archaeologist said the antiquities were not significant. The discovery is just the most recent in a series of excavations that have fueled objections to the site.