NEWS

‘Total security’ vowed for Games

ATHENS – Hundreds of special forces, bomb experts, snipers and sniffer dogs will secure the Athens Olympic Village where 16,000 athletes and coaches will stay during this summer’s Games, police officials said yesterday. An estimated 900 armed security staff will be on duty around the clock, protecting the 2,292-home complex northwest of the capital. Several hundred frogmen and armed guards will also be deployed at the port of Piraeus, where seven luxury cruise ships will berth to provide accommodation for Olympics officials and visitors, the police official told Reuters. «This is more or less the plan,» the official said. Organizers unveiled the plans during a three-day security briefing this week for representatives of all 202 nations participating in the August 13-29 Olympics, in a bid to calm international fears over security arrangements for the Games. They said apart from traffic restrictions around the Olympic venues, there would be also be restrictions on the movement of ships and sailing boats in the Saronic Gulf off Athens. An eight-mile detection zone will allow authorities to record every moving vessel. A second zone stretching five miles from the coast is designed to force ships to change course. All vessels approaching within half a mile from the coast will be forced to stop, officials said. «The plans aim at offering total, overall and comprehensive security as it has never been seen before,» a Games security source said. Athens is hosting the first summer Games since the September 11, 2001 attacks on US cities and organizers are putting in place the biggest security plan in the history of the Games, worth 1 billion euros. The plan includes NATO assistance in sea and air patrols during the Games. Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis said NATO assistance with its AWAC surveillance planes monitoring the skies above Greece were crucial in determining potential threats to the Games. «If a renegade plane, a plane that is not on its proper course over Greece, enters restricted air space, and does not change course after being warned, it will not reach the Olympic Stadium,» he told state television. «It will be shot down, let me make it clear that it will never reach the stadium.» With 45,000 armed guards and a network of thousands of cameras for crowd and traffic control, the security measures far exceed those for the Sydney 2000 Games.