OPINION

Editorial

The unprecedented terrorist attack on September 11 inevitably forces the responsible US and other international officials to re-examine current security systems so as to maximize their effectiveness, particularly with respect to the security measures for big events. The first among these events are the Winter Olympic Games due to take place in Salt Lake City in the USA in February next year. The last session of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Security Committee was dedicated to mapping out a new, stricter security program for the 2002 Winter Olympics which will, of course, constitute the model for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The tense climate due to the recent terrorist strikes will inevitably determine the new security guidelines. Greece has every reason to agree to the new standards, on the one hand in order to safeguard the security of this major sports event and, on the other, so as to leave no room for doubts. It is common knowledge that some anti-terrorist officials, primarily in the USA, have – in the light of the activity of the November 17 terrorist group – criticized Greece in the past, issuing direct threats that they may assign the Games to a different city. This is a very remote possibility, of course, but threats of this kind are indicative of the present climate. The unprecedented terrorist strike against the USA has demonstrated that the problem of terrorism is more widespread and more acute. Officials with preconceptions, who accuse Greece of toleration or, in the best case, of incompetence, should broaden their focus. The security of major athletic events such as the Olympic Games is not just the responsibility of the host country. It requires the greatest possible international cooperation. For this reason, the Greek side, before the tragic events on September 11, had started to cooperate with security experts from seven countries which have more experience in this area. The impending visit of top IOC officials in Athens will be an opportunity to put all issues on the table and clarify them. The Games’ security has now become an international issue and will require broader participation in undertaking the growing financial burden.