Published November 20, 2014
Poland and Ukraine held celebrations Wednesday marking exactly one year before they co-host the 2012 European Championship, unveiling giant clocks to count down to the start of the tournament that captivates all of Europe for weeks.
The festivities come amid strong fears that the necessary stadiums, hotels, roads and railway stations won't be built or upgraded in time for the June 8 start of Euro 2012, a soccer tournament held only once every four years.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said the National Stadium in Warsaw, which will host the tournament's opening match, is now scheduled to open Nov. 30, five months later than its original deadline.
"There is no doubt that the National Stadium will be ready well ahead of time for the Euro 2012," Tusk told reporters at the stadium.
UEFA secretary general Gianni Infantino said during a visit to Warsaw that he has "lost a few hairs worrying about the preparations" but that each country is about 80 percent of where it needs to be.
"A few delays ... have not altered our faith in the project," he said.
There is a clear sense of relief at UEFA, European football's governing body, at how far Ukraine and Poland have come since receiving several stern rebukes from UEFA President Michel Platini after being awarded co-hosting rights in 2007.
In an evening ceremony in the Ukrainian cities of Kiev and Lviv, two giant clocks will be unveiled to count down the days and hours until the tournament.
Deputy Prime Minister Boris Kolesnikov, who is in charge of Euro 2012 preparations, was touring the four Ukrainian host cities Wednesday to check preparation schedules.
Grygoriy Surkis, president of the Ukraine football body, expressed confidence that Ukraine would make a great host.
"The entire Europe will see our true faces — open, happy and welcoming," Surkis said on the Ukrainian soccer federation's website.