NEWS

New security body for 2004

Security for the Athens 2004 Olympics and the delays in construction projects for the Games are at the top of International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge’s agenda in his Athens meetings today. Rogge and the chairman of the Coordination Committee for the Athens Games, Denis Oswald, arrived in Athens yesterday. The September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States have made the upgrading of security for the Salt Lake City Winter Games next February the IOC’s top priority. But an IOC source said that there was concern over how much the Greek side was cooperating with foreign secret services in planning security, as US officials had let on that they were not satisfied in this regard. At a news conference scheduled today, Rogge is expected to play down these concerns. But in private meetings, he is expected to raise the issue of cooperation with foreign services directly. Moreover, a Civil Security Body is expected to be set up in the next few days. Its formation is to be announced officially to the IOC officials today, as a decision showing the Greek government’s desire to improve security for Athens 2004. The body will handle the security program for the Athens Games and is to hold its first meeting in early October. On it will be all the general secretaries of ministries that are involved in Olympic projects and programs. According to sources, the body’s function will be to incorporate the new security standards (as they develop) into the programs of all these ministries. The Civil Security Body will serve not only to shuttle orders but will also constitute the source of new standards. This means that every one of its members will be able to propose changes to the 2004 security program, which, if accepted, will be adopted by all members. The Coordination Committee members will also be shown today the work that has been done at sports venues and other Olympic facilities. Sports Minister Giorgos Floridis said yesterday that although there had been a few delays, venues would be ready in time. A Lufthansa passenger plane was forced to abort its departure from Thessaloniki yesterday after being struck by a piece of asphalt on the runway which damaged the fuselage, Agence France-Presse reported airport authorities as saying. The 100 passengers on the flight, from Thessaloniki to Munich, were transferred to other flights. Lufthansa is sending a team to Thessaloniki to investigate the incident.