2004 security primed

Security planning for the Athens 2004 Olympics has intensified over the past weeks, with senior officials visiting all the cities that will be involved in the Games in order to prepare an invisible safety net involving land, air and sea forces. Special attention has also been focused on threats that may face 12 cruise ships that will provide hospitality to officials during the Games. At a conference organized by the opposition New Democracy party, Athens 2004 chief Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki appealed to the government and opposition not to feature the Games in the campaign for next spring’s elections. Both sides promised to abide by this. Over the last two weeks, a team from the Olympic Games Security Directorate, headed by its chairman, Lt. Gen. V. Constantinidis, the head of Greece’s anti-terrorism squad, Lt. Gen. Stelios Syros, visited Thessaloniki, Volos, Patras and Iraklion (all of which will host Olympic events) in order to finalize security planning. They were briefed on what has been done and the particular challenges of each case. They also noted what personnel or materiel were needed in order to decentralize forces in each case. The results of this tour will be analyzed in the next few days in order to finalize plans. The National Intelligence Service (EYP) is said to be at the most sensitive point of its preparations, gathering and analyzing information in order to pre-empt any threat to the Olympics. The fact that the devastation in the recent terrorist attacks in Istanbul was caused by a combination of fertilizer and fuel has prompted an effort to register the network used to sell such products so that suspicious purchases can be noted. The coast guard will work in close cooperation with the navy and air force to spot suspicious movements and to react immediately, in accordance with a plan called Poseidonio. Patrols in sensitive areas will intensify and there will be more spot checks of vessels entering Greek waters. Some 4,000 coast guard officers will keep watch for illegal immigrants and guard ports of cities hosting Olympic events. Harbors and areas hosting marine events will be monitored by special electronic equipment, including cameras and submarine sensors. In addition to boat patrols, frogmen will guard 12 cruise ships housing 12,000 people. A dirigible (or «zeppelin») fitted with high-resolution cameras will keep watch from above, feeding footage into a central service, police said yesterday.