Top security official says, ‘We’re ready’

With less than three weeks to go before the start of the Athens Olympics, the country’s official responsible for security told Kathimerini that irrespective of past construction delays, everything was going according to plan and the security network was in place for the Games. Noting that there was no indication of a specific threat, Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis added, «That doesn’t mean that we aren’t obliged to take all necessary measures.» «For us, the Olympic Games have already started. July 1 marked the operational adjustment, the final trial and the start of the implementation of security plans and measures for the Olympic Games. We are adhering strictly to the timetable; our staff is highly trained and in place; we are ready,» Voulgarakis said. «Delays in delivering the projects did not affect our planning. Every venue that is delivered is searched and locked. There is sufficient time to test the security systems which, in any case, are not unfamiliar to the people using them.» Voulgarakis said that planning had long been finished and officials were now putting the preparations into practice. «I have an overall view which is absolutely positive,» Voulgarakis said. «What worries me, or rather, what annoys me, is that 20 days before the beginning of the great celebration, we are wasting our time on rumors and leaks which create a bad atmosphere instead of the opposite.» Over the last few weeks, Voulgarakis has been responding to reports that foreign security officials and troops would be carrying arms in Greece during the Games. The latest news is that a NATO force of anti-terrorism specialists will be on standby in Germany, ready to respond in a couple of hours to a Greek request for assistance. But, while Greek officials insist there will be no arms in Olympic facilities, foreign security personnel will be armed while guarding their country’s officials and VIPs. «Let me make it clear yet again that the management of and political responsibility for security belongs to the Greek authorities, which have done whatever is humanly possible so that the Games are held in a safe and peaceful environment,» Voulgarakis said.