Rogge: ‘We will re-evaluate everything’

Last Tuesday’s terrorist attacks on the United States have brought issues of security at the Olympic Games to the fore. We will reassess and re-evaluate everything, Jacques Rogge, the newly elected president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said following the attacks. When it comes to security, everything has changed since Tuesday. By coincidence, both the IOC’s Executive Board and the interministerial committee overseeing the preparation of the 2004 Athens Olympics meet today to reconsider security arrangements in the light of the recent attacks. In the case of the IOC Executive Board, the meeting in Lausanne – the first since Rogge was elected in Moscow on July 16 to replace Juan Antonio Samaranch – will last three days and will primarily review security plans for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, with less than five months until the opening ceremony on February 8, 2002. We are examining under what circumstances the IOC could be responsible if something happens, what are the measures we have to take to avoid risks, IOC board member Marc Hodler said. Hodler is also head of the IOC panel which oversees the 2002 Winter Games. He is scheduled to travel to Salt Lake City in late October to inspect the latest preparations. The IOC will also likely review security plans for the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Greece has been in the spotlight because of successive governments’ failure, over a span of more than 25 years, to arrest a single member of the domestic November 17 terrorist organization. In the past, but also since last Tuesday, the US press has referred to Greece’s terrorism problems in connection to the 2004 Games. The IOC has repeatedly declared that Greece’s plans, which include spending $650 million on security issues and deploying a force of 50,000 policemen and soldiers during the Games, are completely satisfactory. But that was before last Tuesday. Yesterday, Rogge asked the IOC’s legal commission to study the Olympic body’s liability in the event of terrorist strikes in Salt Lake City. Salt Lake Organizing Committee chief Mitt Romney was in Washington lobbying Congress for additional security funding when the terrorists struck. He will present details of revised security plans when he reports to the IOC board via a video conference tomorrow. Utah officials said the Games may have a more militarized look, with armed soldiers possibly helping patrol streets as Air Force jets guard the skies. But Romney said the beefed up security shouldn’t be excessive. Rogge and his successor as head of the IOC Coordination Commission overseeing the Athens Games, Denis Oswald, will visit Greece on September 26-28. Security is expected to be a major discussion point, along with continuing delays in the construction of Olympic venues.

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