Security won’t mar Games, Rogge says

SARAJEVO – The unprecedented levels of security for the Athens Olympics later this year will not damage the Games, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge said yesterday. «The security measures will not affect the quality of the Games and the organization of the Games as such,» Rogge told a news conference in the Bosnian capital. «I don’t think it will affect the number of spectators or tourists or the general ambience of the Games.» Greece is spending a record 650 million euros on security for the Games and will be mobilizing 40,000 police and security personnel, three times more than for the Sydney Olympics in 2000. There will also be 10,000 troops on duty and a further 40,000 on call. Security has been beefed up in the wake of the US-led war in Iraq and bomb attacks in nearby Turkey late last year. Measures include the use of NATO surveillance aircraft as well as Russian mobile laboratories should there be nuclear, chemical or biological attacks. Rogge dismissed fears that such high-level security would disrupt the Games, stressing that security has been the top priority of all Olympic Games since the death of 11 Israelis in Munich in 1972. «So we are used to security and we need security,» Rogge said. «Today… if you travel by plane anywhere in the world you will have security checks, security checks, security checks, and everyone accepts it and that is the best way so I don’t think it will affect the Games.» In Sarajevo to take part in celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of the 14th Winter Olympics, Rogge recalled how well-organized those Games were from the security point of view. «There was a lot of security, very good security, but those were excellent Games,» he said.