Berlin Olympic stadium facelift complete

30th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

30 July 2004, BERLIN - The ghosts of the past will never leave, but the completed facelift of Berlin's Olympic stadium for the 2006 World Cup also demonstrates the modern image of Germany.

30 July 2004

BERLIN - The ghosts of the past will never leave, but the completed facelift of Berlin's Olympic stadium for the 2006 World Cup also demonstrates the modern image of Germany.

Built for the 1936 Olympics that were misused by the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler, the arena will host the final of the World Cup on 9 July 2006.

"The world is once again looking at Berlin and its stadium. But in 2006 it will see a modern and democratic Germany," said interior minister Otto Schily.

"Today's Olympic stadium represents the historical changes in Germany but at the same time maintains the memories of the dark past," he said.

The official inauguration of the renovated arena takes place on Saturday and Sunday, with several musical acts such as pop star Pink on the agenda. There is also a football game between the local Bundesliga team Hertha Berlin and Besiktas Istanbul.

A friendly between World Cup winners Brazil and Germany follows on 8 September which will provide a first dose of World Cup feeling for the expected sellout crowd of 77,000.

It was a recommendation by Hertha — whose colours are blue and white — that the arena boasts a azure running track around the football pitch, the main eye-catcher along with the transparent roof.

The rest of the stadium looks just as before — with tens of thousands of stones sand-blasted in the EUR 242 million operation of which 196 million came from the German government.

Conservation authorities issued strict guidelines for the facelift.

The original Olympic stadium built by Otto March for the 1916 Olympics (which fell victim to World War I) was destroyed to give way for a new version 1934-1936, built by March's son Werner.

"Where did Adolf Hitler stand" is still one of the most asked questions during stadium tours these days as the memory from the 1936 Games lingers on.

The modernised arena combines history, the present and the future as well.

"The new Berlin Olympic stadium is a modern venue for football, athletics and show business. Berlin not only has one of the best stadiums in Europe but also a monument which is known around the world," said Schily.

The World Cup in two years' time will be the first major highlight. Another could be the 2009 world athletics championships Berlin is bidding for.

And Schily did also not rule out another attempt to win the Olympics.

"In its new look the Olympic stadium would one day also be a great venue for the Olympic Games," Schily said.

DPA

Subject: German news

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