Step forward on 2004 security

One week after receiving an unexpected roasting for foot-dragging from International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Jacques Rogge, the government announced yesterday it had awarded a provisional contract to one of the two consortia bidding to provide an estimated 300-million-euro security package for the 2004 Games. In another indication of industriousness, the Athens 2004 organizing committee said yesterday it was putting into operation the Internet site that will sell tickets for the Olympics. Actual sales will not start until May 12, while potential spectators will only be able to purchase their tickets over the Internet – at – or at branches of Alpha Bank, one the Games’ chief sponsors that has been named «official bank» for the 2004 Olympics. «As of [yesterday] everyone will have the opportunity to be informed responsibly and in advance on the ticket-ordering process,» an Athens 2004 announcement said. Organizers hope to raise 183 million euros from ticket sales. Meanwhile, the Government Council on Foreign Policy and Defense (KYSEA) yesterday decided to go ahead with negotiations with a consortium led by the US Science Applications International Corp (SAIC), with the intention of lowering the cost of a central security command and communications system. SAIC has submitted a 320-million-euro bid, which Athens hopes to drag down to 270 million. If this proves impossible, the government will then turn to the other bidder, a consortium headed by UK-French Thales. The decision met with praise from Rogge, who told Reuters the IOC was «extremely happy to learn that the contract has been signed, and thanks the government… The signing of this contract was a central factor needed for the organization of the Games.»