The jubilation that erupted in Poland and Ukraine after UEFA's April 2007 decision to award them the event evaporated last year as construction delays with stadiums, roads, airports and hotels in both countries fueled reports that UEFA could hand the tournament to a backup host -- possibly Italy, Germany or Scotland.
concerns have eased following a successful meeting with UEFA president Michel
Platini in December, after which the former
While progress has been made, recent visits by Associated Press reporters to five of the eight planned host cities indicate both eastern European states still have much to do.
years to go,
Chervonenko, the former head of the country's 2012 organizing committee, said
the tournament "is one of our great chances to turn
Preparations in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, nestled in rolling hills about 70 kilometers (45 miles) from the Polish border, lag farthest behind and show just how far Ukraine has to go to reach western European levels.
A crumbling, one-lane road riddled with potholes runs from the border to Lviv, winding though towns and villages along the way. Chickens peck at the muddy shoulder of the road in some spots, while in others dogs wander across the pavement.
The city's airport dates from the late 1950s. The main waiting lounge is no larger than a tennis court and doesn't have a bathroom.
begun, however, on a new 33,000-seat stadium near the city's southern bypass
that provides easy access to the main road east to
are more advanced in
is to host the tournament's final, and UEFA has warned without a renovated
needed upgrades to
country has to add or modernize runways and build new terminals in all of the
host cities. Construction work is already under way at
The country has also vowed to upgrade thousands of kilometers (miles) of dilapidated roads that outside of the main cities are often little more than single-lane ribbons, cracked and crumbling.
said the country has to build and renovate a total of 300 hotels, about 100 of
which are still being designed. But the former head of
Ukrainian officials estimate the entire project will cost around $30 billion -- 1/3 coming from state coffers and the rest from private investors.
world financial turmoil has devastated
The situation is further complicated by a bitter power struggle between Prime Minister Julia Tymoshenko and her former political ally, President Viktor Yushchenko. The two leaders are likely opponents in presidential elections expected in late 2009 or early 2010, and both are eager to take credit for Euro 2012 and control the vast funds set aside for the project.
the enormous challenges, Vasyunyk vowed
By Ryan Lucas, Associated Press Writer
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