NEWS

IOC’s Rogge ready to step up security

Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, said yesterday that IOC officials had been put at ease regarding delays in three major projects related to Athens 2004. He also stressed that everything «humanly possible» had been done to ensure security but there could be no guarantee of total success. «We had concern with the tramway and our experts made a visit and discussed with the builders and the concerns about the tramway have been resolved. The same concerns about the suburban railway have been completely resolved and we have noted with great pleasure the good progress on the construction of the Calatrava roof over the Olympic Stadium,» Rogge told a news conference. The tram and railway will play a crucial role in transport for the Games and the roof, an arched metal structure designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, is being built over the main stadium. «I am amazed at the progress that has been made,» Rogge said. «It is clear deadlines are tight. The same sense of urgency is needed and no time can be lost,» he said. «Security is the No. 1 priority,» Rogge said. «Everything that is humanly possible has been put in place. At the same time, no one can guarantee 100 percent security. This is impossible,» Rogge said. He said he was not against raising security to even higher levels in order to minimize risks. «If the result of this means that athletes, spectators and officials have to undergo more security checks, let it be so,» he told a news conference. As elections are due by next spring, Rogge was asked if this could mean a change in Athens 2004 officials. «The Games are far more important than just one city. They are the Games of a nation and definitely that nation wants the Games to be a success and I believe politicians on all sides have understood this message,» he noted. He said opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis had assured him he would not change officials if he wins. Reuters reported from London that Greece has sought the help of Britain’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) to ensure safety at the Olympics, including the possibility of an attack with anthrax.