The government yesterday canceled the tender for the provision of security systems for the 2004 Olympics. «It was decided – and I think this was the right decision – to cancel the tender,» Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos told reporters yesterday after a Cabinet meeting on the Games’ organizational progress. Venizelos added that the government would negotiate with the two bidding consortiums in a bid to reduce the overall cost of the security contract. Greece has planned to spend a record $650 million on the Games’ security, considered by many, including the International Olympic Committee, as the most vital part of the Games. The concerns arising from fears of a terrorist attack – especially in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York City and Washington – have added to the cost of security measures. Intense pressure, including from foreign governments, had been piling on the Greek government to favor one or the other bidder. The one consortium, Thales Raytheon Systems, is a joint effort of US, French, Greek and other companies, while the second consortium is led by US firm SAIC and includes US firms General Dynamics, ITT Industries and Honeywell, Germany’s Siemens and Greece’s Altec, Pouliadis and Diekat. SAIC’s original bid was for 278 million euros, while the TRS consortium had budgeted its bid at 403 million euros. Neither satisfied the Greek government, which, at first, wanted the limit the cost to 230 million euros, only later agreeing that it might go as high as 300 million euros. TRS’s bid was deemed the most proficient technically but too expensive. SAIC’s bid, according to sources, lacked essential elements, such as the training of Greece’s police and armed forces in the new systems. In a paid advertisement published in several paper’s yesterday and taking up an entire page, SAIC claimed that its bid was «equivalent» to TRS’s, thereby indirectly denying the rumors about its being incomplete. A government attempt, sanctioned by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, to bring the two consortiums to work together failed when SAIC walked out of the talks, claiming its far lower bid ought to be preferred. Athens 2004 officials were aghast at developments yesterday, claiming that timetables were already extremely tight.