Salt Lake hands out tips on being an Olympic host

SALT LAKE CITY – Comparing notes about his city’s experience in preparation for the current Winter Olympics and Greece’s lead-up to the Athens 2004 Summer Olympics, Salt Lake City’s mayor, Rocky Anderson, pointed out yesterday that the two cases posed different challenges. «The challenges in Athens are different. You have problems with the transportation of commuters, installations and security,» Anderson told Greek officials and journalists on the sidelines of the Winter Olympics. «We had to confront two problems, transportation and security. «Both issues were replanned from scratch after the September 11 attacks, as security measures had to be reinforced,» he added. Anderson suggested an open, honest approach by Greek officials when informing the public of the state of preparations. «Tell the people the truth. Make public all the existing problems – in transport, traffic, installations, and security,» Anderson said, and added that Greece was «an exceptional choice as a host nation for the Olympics.» Referring to the assignment of security measures by organizers, Anderson said that local police joined forces with the federal government and national security agencies. To overcome likely traffic congestion, as a result of the reinforced security following the September 11 strikes, Anderson said his administration collaborated with the city’s chamber of commerce. To assure smooth traffic flow during the Games, the chamber has implemented a rotating business-hour system that averts peak-hour traffic jams by obliging local merchants to take turns opening and closing at different times. Judging by the smooth flow of traffic here, the measure has proven effective. Danger-mongering by journalists, which is all too common in Greece, is not a rare phenomenon, said the Salt Lake City mayor, who remarked that the press – everywhere – has a «bad habit» of projecting negative issues. «In Sydney, too, they had the same problem, but, in the end, everybody agreed that the Games were perfectly organized,» Anderson pointed out. «When we decided to place the Olympic rings on the peak of one mountain, so that they could illuminate the area, ecologist friends of mine reacted. At the time, it became a big issue in the press. Now, everybody’s enjoying the sight,» he added. Anderson claimed that his city and its citizens have benefited, and will continue to benefit, from the Salt Lake City Games. «Ninety-five percent of the population is happy, even though I myself had doubts in the beginning,» Anderson said. «The city has benefited in the long term for many generations to come through increased tourism, the region’s largest industry, new installations and the road network. I hope we can stage another Olympiad in the future.» In the qualifiers for the cross-country 1.5-kilometer sprint, Eleftherios Fafalis was 42nd among 71st finishers, in three minutes 1.98 seconds, 11.91 seconds behind top qualifier Haavard Bjerkeli of Norway. In the women’s qualifier for the same event, Ekaterini Balkampa was next-to-last (57th) in four minutes 6.99 seconds.

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