NEWS

Trouble-free Games at a high price

The closest Greek police on Olympic security duties got to handling a terrorist attack was when two members of the Russian team at the Games got into the Olympic Village after displaying the wrong accreditation, the government said yesterday. «We were afraid they might be Chechens, but the incident ended smoothly,» Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis told a press conference on the 1.2-billion-euro security operation, in which 34,680 police, fire brigade and coast guard personnel took part. Overall, Voulgarakis said, ministry forces were mobilized on 738 occasions during the August 13-29 Games. While most had to do with providing security at large gatherings of VIPs, 74 were in response to bomb threats, all of which turned out to be hoaxes. «During the opening ceremony, around 10.10 p.m., we received a threat regarding a bomb on the perimeter of the main Olympic Stadium,» Voulgarakis said. «The whole security mechanism was mobilized, and we very quickly established the threat was a hoax. There was a similar incident during the closing ceremony.» On 134 occasions, the minister said, police were called to examine suspiciously bomb-like objects, and there were 82 responses to planned demonstrations. Officers also had to handle 84 incidents of lost objects in Olympic venues, four cases of drugs use, 44 thefts, three robberies and 20 attempts to illegally enter Olympic venues. During the September 17-28 Paralympics, there were only 15 bomb threats, all hoaxes. Voulgarakis said the worst performing section of the massive security operation was its most visible part, the white zeppelin fitted with cameras and sensors that patrolled the capital’s skies during the Games. The airship was only judged to have fulfilled its mission to a 56.7 percent degree, compared to police personnel who received a 98.8 percent rating. Furthermore, the 259-million-euro C4I electronic system for controlling and coordinating the security umbrella failed to function to the height of its capabilities, and will only be fully ready next month. The government now proposes to seek a discount on the system’s cost.