SPORTS

IOC to finance security

Increased terrorist threats may force the International Olympic Committee to help fund the high security costs in future Games, a top IOC official said yesterday. «In the future, I think somehow we should participate in the expenses of the safety and security of the Games,» said Pal Schmitt, a Hungarian IOC member and head of the group’s commission on sport and environment. He added that the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks «showed us that the security has to be emphasized during the Games.» Presently, the host city is responsible to pay for security. Athens has budgeted more than $600 million for 2004 security, which include assistance from experts from the United States, Britain, France and other nations. Schmitt made the comments during an Athens conference about the influence of the Olympic Games on international relations. But IOC delegates stressed the group is not a political organization. «It was not the Olympic Games who influenced politics, but the politics influenced the International Olympic Committee. .. throughout this century,» Schmitt told the conference. In 1976, some nations – mostly African – boycotted the Montreal Games over apartheid in South Africa. In 1980, the United States led a boycott of the Moscow Games to protest the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Soviet Union and 13 allies did not attend the 1984 Los Angeles Games as payback for the Moscow snub. Kal Holsti, professor of political science at the University of British Columbia, said the Games have directly influenced politics since the first modern Olympiad in Athens in 1896. «Increasingly, the geography of sport has become synonymous with the geography of politics,» Holsti said. «States help to make the Olympic Games and the Olympic Games help to make states.» For the 2004 Games, Schmitt predicted it will be the first time that more than 200 countries will participate. «I am convinced this will be a cultural, historical and, of course, sports success of the Olympic movement,» Schmitt said. He added that the IOC is trying to get Afghan and Iraqi athletes to participate next summer. Last month, Afghanistan’s Olympic Committee was reinstated, clearing the way for the country’s possible participation in the 2004 Games. Afghanistan had been suspended in October 1999 because of the Taliban’s ban on participation of women athletes. In August, the IOC is expected to dispatch a full fact-finding mission to Iraq. The aim is to identify top-level Iraqi athletes and help them train for the Olympics, either in Iraq or abroad.