NEWS

Olympic ‘sweep’ begins

Security at Olympic venues and related installations will tighten considerably as of today, as 37,000 security officers begin to be deployed at the places they will be stationed until the end of the Paralympics on September 28. The security forces will be preceded by special teams of explosives experts, who will search the installations thoroughly, using specially trained dogs and state-of-the-art scanners that can detect explosive devices embedded in concrete. Officials at the Ministry of Public Order said yesterday that «the ‘sweeping’ and ‘locking’ of installations will begin from places where all work has finished since it is practically impossible to control access in places where works are in progress.» At some venues, there is still construction rubble and at several others workers are still laying cables and carpets, and painting walls. At the rhythmic gymnastics and table tennis venue in Galatsi, for example, the «locking,» that is, the takeover by security forces, will not take place until July 18, venue officials said. Around Olympic venues there will be two zones of limited circulation where only police cars will be allowed, as well as four road access points, for athletes, VIPs, the media and spectators. The premises will be guarded and patrolled on a 24-hour basis. Closed-circuit TV and movement sensors will also be used. Of the 37,000 security forces comprising the Olympic Security Force, 19,500 are police, special guards and border guards, and the rest belong to the coast guard, the fire department and the army. The number of Olympics-related installations is over 120. There are also more than 200 hotels to be guarded. Some 4,000 police will be brought into Athens to help with city patrols which will become increasingly frequent, especially in areas crowds are expected to congregate. Security is a major issue at these Games, the first Summer Olympics after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Greece will be spending upwards of 1 billion euros on security. At a meeting between Albanian and Greek police officers yesterday, the Albanians announced that, beginning today, they will deploy 6,000 police forces along the border with Greece and an extra 5,000 in the interior to prevent the infiltration of any terrorists into the country.