ATHENS, Greece - To the great relief of organizers, a section of roof for the main Olympic stadium began moving into place Monday in a crucial step toward completing the centerpiece of the Summer Games.
In meeting a deadline set by IOC inspectors, Athens officials are intent on avoiding the humiliating spectacle of an unfinished roof when the world's athletes assemble in three months.
One of the two 231-foot-high half-domes crept along tracks pulled by hydraulic jacks, and officials said it could reach its anchor location by today.
Deputy Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia broke a bottle of wine on the structure before it started inching toward its permanent spot 234 feet away.
It was not known when movement would begin on the other half of the dome, which needs to travel 198 feet. The minister said the roof would be in place by the end of May.
Earlier, IOC inspectors visited the site for their last major review of Athens' troubled preparations. The organization has insisted the roof installation begin while the team was in Athens.
Failure to start the procedure could have forced the IOC to consider suspending the project, one of the top worries amid the chronic venue and transportation delays. Any breakdowns or other problems could disrupt plans to have the $251-million stadium upgrade ready by the end of June to meet IOC timetables.
In other news, talks about security have been productive and indicate significant progress, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said.
Greek Minister of Public Order George Voulgarakis met in Washington last week with top U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials, including Ridge.
TENNIS: Coria rallies for win
Defending champion Guillermo Coria rallied by Nicolas Almagro 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 in the first round of the Hamburg Masters in Germany, his 27th straight win on clay. Coria, seeded second behind Roger Federer, hasn't lost on clay since the 2003 French Open semifinals.
ITALIAN OPEN: Maria Sharapova beat Tatiana Perebiynis to reach the second round in Rome. No.1 seed Serena Williams and the other top eight players received byes into the second round.
FED CUP: Austria chose Innsbruck as the site for its July 10-11 quarterfinal against the United States.
DAVIS CUP: Australia chose a grass court for September's matches against a Moroccan team that may be dominated by clay-court specialists.
SOCCER: Long rehab for Maradona
Diego Maradona is expected to have a long rehabilitation at a psychiatric hospital for his lung and heart problems, his doctor said. The 43-year-old former player, who led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup, was moved Sunday to a suburban clinic in Buenos Aires specializing in mental-health treatment for drug addictions. Alfredo Cahe, Maradona's physician, said the former player was expected to remain hospitalized "for some time." He described his condition as stable, but refused to say what kind of treatment Maradona would receive. For the first time, Cahe referred to Maradona's past drug problems and suggested a possible link to his health complications.
GADHAFI'S SON: Saadi Gadhafi, who plays on an Italian League team, had an appendectomy. But the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi left the hospital against doctors' advice to attend a gala in Monaco tied to Libya's bid for the 2010 World Cup. The 30-year-old had surgery Sunday.
BASKETBALL: The USBL suspended St. Louis SkyHawks coach Floyd Irons indefinitely, two days after he pulled his team off the floor in a game against Cedar Rapids. The suspension is the most severe penalty handed out in the 19-year history of the league. Irons pulled his team with about six minutes remaining in the second quarter of Saturday's game, apparently upset about the officiating.
CYCLING: Italy's Damiano Cunego outsprinted Australia's Bradley McGee to win the second stage of the Giro d'Italia race in Pontremoli, Italy.
HONORS: Michael Schumacher, who won a record sixth Formula One title last year, was named the world sportsman of the year at the Laureus World Sports Awards. It was the second time in three years the race car driver earned the honor. Golfer Annika Sorenstam took the women's award, and 14-year-old golfer Michelle Wie was named newcomer of the year.