SPORTS

Defense Ministry wins battle over Olympic security tenders

The battle for the provision of security systems and services for the 2004 Athens Olympics will be fought between US companies. At the same time, it seems that the generals in the Ministry of Defense have got the upper hand over their police colleagues at the Public Order Ministry as to who will control the bidding process. The Ministry of Defense’s intense interest in the bidding is based on security concerns. The armed forces’ leadership remains concerned that a lot of classified information pertaining to Greece’s defense and security would be made available to foreigners and had wanted from the beginning to control not only the bidding process but the implementation, as well. Greece will spend over $650 million to beef up security for the Games. The new demands made clear by last year’s terrorist attacks on the United States of America and the continued failure to arrest any members of the November 17 terrorist organization have ensured that spending on security will be high. Having gained control of the process, the Defense Ministry has decided, against the advice of experts, to break up the bidding process for the procurement of security material in several parts: Exactly how many is still unknown. This tactic works to the advantage of bidders, since most of them will get a piece of the action, and, of course, will benefit middlemen. Peter Ryan, the security chief of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, brought in as an adviser by Athens 2004, the Games organizers, had reportedly tried to convince officials that a single tender for security systems, as happened in Sydney’s case, would be preferable. He was informed that government officials thought otherwise. A result of this decision is that, according to sources, the US company Lockheed Martin is about to withdraw from the meeting. Several of the members of a consortium Lockheed Martin had assembled for the bidding are now going their own way, ready to bid for part of the projects. Examples include Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Titan and TRW, which recently signed a cooperation agreement with Greece’s European Dynamics. An Israeli company, Rafael, which formed part of Lockheed’s consortium was forced out at the insistence of high-ranking officers. New companies are rushing to fill the void created by Lockheed Martin’s imminent withdrawal. The most important of them appears to be the US company Raytheon. There is a worry among experts that the multiplication of tenders and contracts will delay the setup of security measures until the last possible moment. However, these systems are supposed to be up and working at least a year before the Games’s opening, on August 13, 2004. The issue of cooperation between the army, the police and the firemen also remains to be discussed.