NEWS

2004 security from abroad to be allowed

Foreign security forces are welcome to accompany their Olympic delegations at next year’s Athens Games but will not be necessary, Greek officials said yesterday after a high-level meeting on security issues. Prime Minister Costas Simitis chaired the meeting of top officials involved in the Olympic preparations, including Michael Knight, who was in charge of security at the Sydney Games. «As you know, our country is applying a systematic and complete plan for Olympic security,» said Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who is the government official responsible for Olympic preparations. «Compared to what is happening on our planet and which citizens see on television, our country is a real oasis,» he said. The United States and Australia have said they want to have their own security for their teams. «We will have our own people here,» US Ambassador Thomas Miller told Flash radio yesterday. «But we will also rely on Greek security forces to provide security for our team.» Greece is planning to spend 600 million euros, an unprecedented sum for the Olympics, to provide security. But sources say the Americans are pressing for measures that had not been foreseen, such as special sensors in sports installations to warn of attacks with biological weapons. The SAIC consortium, which has been granted the contract to provide security installations, is also said to be trying to increase the budget. Venizelos and Olympics spokesman Telemachos Hytiris indicated that foreign security would be allowed for athletes. «We want such measures because they create a feeling of greater security for all those taking part in the Olympic Games but all those who are on Greek territory are subject to Greek and EU law,» Venizelos said. Hytiris, asked whether US «security consultants» will be in Athens before the Games, replied, «No.» Government spokesman Christos Protopappas said: «The security of the Games belongs exclusively to the Greek forces and the game will be played according to Greek law… We are a free country. If any delegation, of its own accord, wants to bring security people with it, it has that right. We can’t prohibit that.»