Terror-proof cards?

The threat of terrorism following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks against the United States has forced organizers of the Athens Olympics to adopt new technologies for accreditation cards, to prevent their forgery or use by terrorists. Accreditation Program Manager Stratis Telloglou said yesterday that organizers will employ technologies normally used to issue passports and will add security features such as holograms to the cards. «After the Sept. 11 attacks we had to make sure that we limit the points of intrusion to our security,» Telloglou told The Associated Press. He said organizers sought the advice of numerous security services, including the US Central Intelligence Agency, to design the new cards. Telloglou said about 80,000 accreditation cards will be issued to athletes, journalists and officials. They will also serve as visas for Greece. «We cooperated with the Greek security police, the forensics department, the anti-terrorism department… as well as foreign security agencies like the CIA and had very difficult negotiations with the European Union,» Telloglou said. Greece is one of 15 European countries that are part of the Schengen agreement allowing for border-free travel among member states. Nationals of some countries require special visas to enter the Schengen group. «For the first time in history, the European Commission approved and the European Parliament voted for the accreditation card to also be used as a Schengen visa to allow Olympic participants to safely enter European territory during the Olympic Games period. For the first time a private body will produce state documents,» Telloglou said. The new cards are part of a $750 million security plan for the Athens Games that has become the costliest in Olympic history. Greek authorities are also setting up an electronic database to speed up background checks for people that will receive the accreditation cards. The accreditation cards will be produced in cooperation with Kodak – an Olympic sponsor – and Toppan, a Japanese firm whose equipment has been used to manufacture more than 70 million passports for 22 countries. «All information, such as the photograph of the card holder, the passport number and other security features, will be printed on a very thin film that is embodied on the accreditation card and which is impossible to forge,» Telloglou said.