NEWS

’04 venues to be vacuum-packed

At the end of June, security officials will «fumigate and seal off» all Olympic venues to be used during the August Games, the government said yesterday, adding that an international cooperation net to handle «unexpected» events during the Olympics will be in position next month. Public Order Minister Giorgos Floridis told a Thessaloniki meeting of Greeks of the diaspora that constructors will have handed over to the government the last of the Olympic venues 45 days before the August 13 opening ceremony. He said security forces will then «fumigate and seal off the venues» to prevent any unauthorized visitors from gaining access. Floridis said that the venues which have already been delivered are now sealed off and under 24-hour guard, while any vehicles entering the sites are carefully searched at the gates. According to the lowest estimates, security for the Olympics will cost Greece a massive 650 million euros – three-and-a-half times the security bill for the Sydney 2000 Games – while some 43,000 military, police and coastguard officers will be on duty in the capital. Floridis said Athens would also be able to call on the resources of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which might be asked to provide early-warning flying radar (AWACS) aircraft. «We may need the AWACS, but there is no question of NATO taking over security for the Olympic Games,» he said. «We are working with seven countries – the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Australia, Spain, Israel and the United States – on security matters and in drawing up the plan for the Olympics.» Apart from terrorism, planning will take in natural disasters, such as earthquakes, or even epidemic diseases. «In such an event, everyone will know what to do,» Floridis said.