Security not a fear, says top US Olympic official

US Olympic Committee chief Bill Martin said yesterday he was not worried about the security of his athletes at the August 13-29 Olympics, and said they will stay at the Olympic Village. «You’re going to be wonderful hosts,» Martin told The Associated Press about Athens after meeting the head of the organizing committee. «We’re not at all worried about security. We know you’ll be ready.» Martin, in Athens for a meeting of the Association of National Olympic Committees, said American athletes will stay at the Olympic Village and not at an alternative site where a higher level of security could be provided. More than 600 American athletes will take part in the Games. Asked whether the «Dream Team» of basketball players will also stay at the village, Martin replied, «Yes, at this time.» The team was reportedly considering staying on a cruise ship in the Athens port of Piraeus. The United States and six other countries are advising Greece on its Olympic security program, worth more than $800 million – a record amount. An Associated Press poll published earlier this month found 52 percent of Americans believe a terrorist attack is likely during the Games. The AP-Ipsos survey of 1,000 adults had a margin of error of 3 percentage points. The United States is providing extensive training assistance to Greek police ahead of the Olympics. Next month, Greece is scheduled to stage a large-scale security exercise which will include US troops. Martin, who held talks with chief 2004 organizer Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, said he was thrilled to be a part of the Olympics’ return to their ancient birthplace this summer. «The Greek Games will be a celebration of the history of Greece. It will be a celebration of the Olympic movement,» he said. «We in America are very excited to be a part of this event.» US Ambassador to Greece Thomas Miller, who accompanied Martin, said security preparations were keeping him busy. «I’m spending more of my time than anything else working on security. I can tell you the cooperation is good and we’re working real hard on it,» Miller told AP. «It’s a dangerous world (but)… we’re all confident things will be fine.» He said a series of security exercises had helped Greek readiness. «The March exercise is a significant joint exercise,» he said. «You’ve got to do this kind of hands-on stuff before every Olympics.»