Further warnings about how time is running out for Poland and Ukraine to get the necessary infrastructure in place in time to host next year's Euro 2012 football championships.
According to the latest progress report from European football's governing body Uefa, the two hosts of the championships that will kick off in June 2012 have succeeded in constructing good-quality stadiums, but the infrastructure to take the travelling fans between those stadiums and accommodate them overnight is lacking.
Martin Kallen, Uefa operations director for Euro 2012, told reporters on November 8 in Zurich that the up to 400,000 expected visitors will be impressed while exploring the Poland and Ukraine, whose preparations have suffered many bumps in the road since becoming the first CEE host nations to be awarded the event in April 2007. "I think the fans will go to discover these two countries," Kallen was reported as saying by newswires. "People will be astonished and say, 'I didn't know.' It is something new."
Long-standing concerns about rebuilding Kyiv's Olympic Stadium, which will host the July 1 final, have been settled and the venue will host its first international match on November 11 when Ukraine plays Germany. Poland's National Stadium in Warsaw, which hosts the opening Euro 2012 match on June 8, will be the last of the eight venues completed later this month.
However, Kallen noted there is still major work to be done in the next three to four months, especially in transport from the airports to the stadiums and to the city centres, as well as accommodating visitors, Kallen said. "It will be a different Euro. On the football side, we want it to be on the same level or a little better than Austria-Switzerland in 2008; but it will never be on the same level in terms of transport."
In terms of transport, Kallen said he was most worried about the delayed new air terminal in Gdansk, whose completion date has now been put back to April. "I had some sleepless nights, but it will open in April," he said.
Elsewhere in Poland, airport terminals due to be built in Poznan and Wroclaw have also been delayed, with Poznan due to open in the new year. In the capital Warsaw, the main worry is the rail link from the airport, which has been held up by delays on a crucial stretch of track only about 500 metres long. It is now rescheduled to open in March or April.
Of the roads in Poland, Kallen said some projects simply won't be finished in time, meaning travellers "will have to go off the motorway and have to go back on again 10-15 km later." In Ukraine, where the distances are greater, the roads suffer damage during the harsh winters, and Kallen said the authorities have decided to focus on repairing the roads they have.
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