NEWS

Assurances of Olympic security

PASOK Chairman George Papandreou yesterday insisted that Greece can organize trouble-free and successful Olympics in August, a sentiment echoed by US diplomatic and sports officials in Athens. «We guarantee that the Games will be both safe and successful,» Papandreou, who stepped down as foreign minister earlier this month ahead of the elections, told a gathering in Athens of national Olympic committee officials from all over the world. Papandreou was presenting his vision for an «Olympic Truce» during the August 13-29 Games. US Ambassador Thomas Miller, who, with US Olympic Committee chief Bill Martin, met with Athens 2004 Organizing Committee President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki yesterday, also expressed confidence that «things will be fine,» noting, however, that «it’s a dangerous world.» Martin said he was not concerned about security for US athletes during the Games, adding that the American team will stay at the Olympic Village with all other contestants. Yesterday, Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou briefed Premier Costas Simitis on security preparations for the Games, in which the armed forces will play a major part. Greece has said it might seek NATO help with security, but has made no official demand. Yesterday, a NATO official in Brussels was quoted by Reuters agency as saying no such request is expected before the polls. «[Greece] is a difficult country to seal off… and in a post 9/11 world this is an enormous security challenge,» the official said. «The Greek forces are stretched to the limit.» Meanwhile, today national Olympic committee members will be briefed by IOC Athens Coordination Commission chief Denis Oswald on the course of Greece’s preparations. Top IOC officials are scheduled to visit venue sites tomorrow.