‘All possible’ will be done for safe 2004

Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday that Greece would do its utmost to ensure a secure 2004 Olympics in Athens. Speaking at a session of the interministerial committee overseeing the preparation of the Games yesterday, Simitis said that last week’s terrorist attacks on the United States created novel conditions under which the security plans for the Games will be constantly revised and improved and that security measures will be tightened, where this is necessary. We want Olympic Games that are successful and elevated, in a climate of cooperation and peace in keeping with such a great event, Simitis said. And we will do this without stinting on any effort. Greece will spend about $650 million on security measures and will deploy some 50,000 police and military during the Games. Simitis said that Greek police authorities are to cooperate with seven experienced police forces on security matters. The International Olympic Committee has previously praised Greece for its efforts on security, saying that it was doing the best it could and that there were no problems. After the attack on the US, however, newly-elected IOC president, Jacques Rogge, said that all security arrangements would have to be revised. Yesterday, the IOC Executive Council began a three-day session dealing mostly with security matters. Participants primarily discussed the 2002 Winter Olympics, due to begin on February 8 in Salt Lake City, Utah. They were also expected, however, to discuss security arrangements in Athens. In Athens, deputy government spokesman Telemachos Hytiris said that neither Rogge nor Denis Oswald, his successor as head of the IOC Coordination Commission, had discussed security with Greek authorities recently. He added that they could meet with Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis if they request a meeting. Rogge, Oswald and other Coordination Commission members will visit Athens next week to inspect progress in preparations. Yesterday, former Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis waded in on the security issue, saying it was a matter to be taken seriously and that Athens would see the Games revoked if it failed to deal with terrorism decisively.

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