NEWS

Poll: Greeks plan to flock to Games

ATHENS (AP) – Many Greeks plan to be in Athens during the Olympics, although an increasing number of them are concerned with security and cost of the Aug. 13-29 Games, according to a nationwide poll published yesterday. The survey, which appeared in several newspapers, found that 48.1 percent would «for sure» be in Athens during the Games, while 19 percent of Athenians said they would probably stay in the capital. This appeared to be in sharp contrast to a poll last year that gave much lower numbers for those interested in being in Athens, which is struggling with plans to cope with traffic and transport during the Games. Some critics say the unprecedented security measures will make it difficult for the city’s nearly 5 million residents to get around. The Athens area has nearly half of the country’s 11 million people. The latest poll, conducted by MRB Hellas SA, VPRC, and Research International from Nov. 11 to Dec. 2, did not provide a margin of error. It involved interviews with 1,876 people over the age of 15. The poll found 48.1 of respondents described the preparations for the Games as «good,» but 24.2 percent fear that taxpayers will carry the burden of rising costs. A total of 18.5 percent respondents fear a possible terrorist attack during the Games. A similar question in a poll two years ago found 12 percent worried about Olympic terrorism. Greece has budgeted more than $750 million on 2004 security, the highest amount in Olympic history and more than 3.5 times the money spent for the 2000 Sydney Games. Athens plans to deploy about 50,000 security personnel, including 16,000 soldiers. Several key security drills are planned for the coming months as organizers rush to finish the venues.