NEWS

Security plans on track

Greece will have a comprehensive security system for the Athens Olympics, the minister in charge of security said yesterday. The plan will include adaptations that followed security exercises and sports test events, Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis said after a meeting that included top government officials, Mayor Dora Bakoyannis and Athens 2004 head Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. Voulgarakis earlier briefed Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on the results of his talks with US officials in Washington last week. «We are very pleased, we are a on very good course,» he said. Voulgarakis said that 70,000 security personnel would be deployed during the Olympics – an increase from the original 50,000. He said that 37,000 officers already knew exactly what they would be doing and where they would be during the Games. Voulgarakis said that the electronic security system was being put into place at a satisfactory pace. Although the deadline for this to be completed was May 28, it may need to be extended by a few days, without this affecting planning, he said. Some 3,200 officers, or 80 percent of those involved, had already been trained to use the equipment, Voulgarakis said. He added that police would be able to seal off Olympic facilities only once construction was completed and they had been handed over, adding that this could be done without entailing short cuts in security arrangements. He said the time remaining before the Games begin (on August 13) was enough to complete security planning. Voulgarakis conceded that the bomb attack on the Kallithea police station last week had put him in a difficult position during his US visit. Officials have been embarrassed by the international publicity given to what Greek officials saw as a minor incident that caused limited damage and no injuries. «Such events – no matter how small and isolated they are – amount to high treason,» The Associated Press quoted Voulgarakis as saying. He also commented that an Australian travel advisory regarding Greece was «an exaggeration.»