Final test in March for guarding against terrorist threats

The final exercise to test the readiness of the international factor in responding to an emergency as well as the country’s general level of preparedness for Olympic Games security will be held in March. According to the schedule, the exercise will last for 20 days and will be held in cooperation with the USA and the other six countries in the Olympic advisory group (Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Israel and Australia). The exercise will essentially test the degree of their effectiveness in dealing with the various scenarios raised in Stuttgart. It will be the last test, just four months before the Olympics, so it will cover every possible security issue from the simplest to the most extreme. According to official sources, the scenarios are so extreme that if they actually occurred, the Games would not be able to go ahead. Nevertheless, they are considered necessary within the philosophy of «absolute security» and in view of asymmetrical threats. The Blue Odyssey exercise, a «virtual» exercise dealing with radioactive, biological and chemical threats, and originally scheduled for December, is to take place in February with the help of British experts, who will draw up most of the scenarios. The participants will have to deal with a number of attacks with these weapons in public transport means such as the metro, and venues where a large number of people are expected to congregate during the Games. Smaller-scale exercises have been scheduled for all Olympic venues to evaluate the effectiveness of measures, to control access to these venues, to test security equipment and make any necessary adjustments. During the test events last August, access to venues was tested under real conditions and changes were made where needed. Public Order Minister Giorgos Floridis will also visit the USA and Britain as part of a series of contacts regarding Olympic security that will deal with new conditions in the international arena. He is likely to visit Britain in December, although the final date has not yet been set. The US visit was originally scheduled for this month but has been put off until January.