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Ukraine set to banish Euro 2012 logistics fears

  • 27 Feb 2012
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KIEV (AFP)
s Kiev will host the Euro 2012 final

Euro 2012 co-hosts Ukraine are preparing to welcome tens of thousands of football fans, after years of work to revamp and build match venues as well as upgrade vital air, road and rail infrastructure.

Four venues in Ukraine are hosting 12 Group B and Group D matches, as well as two quarter-finals and a semi-final before the showpiece final at the Olympic Stadium in the capital, Kiev, on July 1.

With 100 days to go until the start of the competition, organisers are hoping to overcome lingering concerns about Ukraine's ability to welcome foreign fans, despite all four grounds being ready.

On the list of concerns are new airports, given that Ukraine had not built a single new airport since independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991.

But Deputy Prime Minister Borys Kolesnikov has insisted that everything will be ready in time.

"The three new terminals of Kiev Boryspil aiport will be ready to receive the guests in April," Kolesnikov told a recent news conference. "The new airport in Lviv will start its work at the end of March."

s Donetsk

Fears have also been raised about the ability of the wider transport network to cope with a huge surge in visitors.

"We expect 26,000 England fans and up to 11,000 French supporters to arrive here to watch the clash between their teams," Kolesnikov told reporters.

"It's a serious challenge for our transportation system. But I have no doubt we will be able to solve any kind of problem during the event."

Ukraine has bought a number of high-speed trains from South Korea to improve rail services. Seventeen trains carrying up to 9,000 passengers will run daily between Ukraine and neighbouring Poland, which is also hosting the tournament.

Roads between host cities as well as Ukraine and Poland have also been improved, Kolesnikov said, adding: "We are planning to complete the road works in April or May at latest."

Hotel capacity and the cost of staying in Kiev for foreign visitors is likely to be the biggest headache, with estimates putting the cost of rooms at double that of staying in the Polish capital, Warsaw.

The Ukrainian city of Donetsk will host the Euro 2012 European Football Championship

An overnight stay in Kiev during the tournament is expected to reach a staggering $332 (247 euros), compared with $149 in Warsaw.

Tent pitches in the Kiev suburbs will cost visiting fans about 40 euros ($54), the price of a daily staying in a hostel in Warsaw.

Kolesnikov, though, said that Ukraine has enough places in inexpensive hotels in all of the host cities, although he admitted there is a lack of capacity in Donetsk. Fans there will have the option of staying on local university campuses, he added.

Ukraine has completely revamped Kiev's Olympic Stadium, which was built in 1923 and is the country's oldest sporting venue. The stadium -- with a capacity of 60,000 for the tournament -- was reopened in October 2011 after a $585 million renovation.

The 50,000-seat Donbass Arena in Donetsk was built in three years and cost the local mining and metal magnate Rinat Akhmetov around $400 million. It was the first elite class stadium in Eastern Europe when it opened in 2009.

The venue even has an infra-red heating system in the stands, which was specially designed for the local climate and keeps the temperature at the stands 12-14 degrees above the temperature outside the arena.

The Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, which has a capacity of 35,000 for the Euros, reopened after renovation in 2009.

Ukraine's fourth Euro-2012 stadium, Arena Lviv, is a completely new stadium, and cost some $286 million. The 30,000-seat ground opened in October last year.

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