NEWS

IOC’s Rogge ‘absolutely confident’

Kicking off several days of meetings of the world’s Olympic committees, which will coincide with the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board meeting later this week, IOC President Jacques Rogge took the opportunity to declare his confidence in the organizers of the Athens Games. On a day in which the US Senate’s Intelligence Committee discussed security at the Olympics and issues of global terrorism, Rogge also praised Greek security preparations. «I would like to thank the Greek government for the unprecedented efforts that it has made with regard to security and safety. Everything that is humanly possible has been done,» he told the Association of National Olympic Committees, which began its 14th General Assembly yesterday. In Washington, CIA Director George Tenet and FBI Director Robert Mueller addressed the Senate committee and stressed that although Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network had been damaged, its radical message inspired other groups. Mueller said that the Athens Olympics and the Democratic and Republican presidential nominating conventions are among the FBI’s top security concerns this year. The United States has planned a major anti-terror exercise with Greek forces, which is to begin on March 9 in Greece. Greece is budgeting an unprecedented 650 million euros for the Games’ security. «It is not an easy task to organize the Olympic Games. Since September 11 the world has changed. We are now confronted with international terrorism,» Rogge said. Regarding preparations, he said, «I want to state in the most categorical way that the IOC surrounds the Greek effort with absolute confidence.» The greatest concerns are focused on the race to build a steel and glass dome which architect Santiago Calatrava has designed for the main Olympic Stadium and to refurbish the road along the marathon route. Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who has overall supervision of the preparations, said: «I declare categorically that most of the projects are 90 percent complete and within the next two months they will have been handed over. I also invite you to attend the Olympic opening ceremony under the Calatrava roof.»