Planning and questions over the all-important security issue for the upcoming 2004 Games was again thrust onto the local limelight this week, with ATHOC’s leadership, the public order minister and top law enforcement officials speaking before Athens-based foreign correspondents this past week.
Public Order Minister George Floridis, Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organising Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and Greek Police (EL.AS) chief Fotis Nassiakos reiterated that the 2004 Olympic Games will be held in an absolutely safe and peaceful environment.
All three spoke at a Foreign Press Association (FPA) luncheon in the Greek capital.
“I would now like to take some time to talk about the international environment in which security planning for the 2004 Olympic Games has evolved, as well as about the parameters that influence security both on a national and on an international level,” Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said, adding:
“First of all, we should bear in mind that the 2004 Games will be the first Summer Olympic Games after the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. Of course, Salt Lake City hosted the winter Games shortly after Sept. 11. However, the smaller size and geography of the Salt Lake City Games was very different than the 2004 Summer Olympic Games.
“Secondly, until the summer of 2002, Greece had to face and manage issues of internal terrorism. And as you are well aware, the image of Greece when security was discussed was very different then, when compared to its current one,” she added.
“Thirdly, terrorism is now a global threat, overcoming geographical boundaries and the administration of national governments alone. As is witnessed by several security incidents after September 11, around the globe. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the Olympic Games, due to the worldwide attention they attract, cannot be excluded as a potential terrorist target.
“It is a reality that the international situation, especially after the war in Iraq, is a particularly unstable one. In these circumstances, we are planning to apply what can be described as the most complex and demanding security programme in the history of the Olympic Games,” she concluded.
Both the minister and the police chief, meanwhile, agreed on the issue of the Games’ success, adding that measures and ways are being examined so that a hefty security presence does not spoil the image of the Games.
Floridis and Nasiakos added that security planning for the Games is the biggest, costliest and most complex ever planned for an Olympic Games.
On his part, police Lt.-Gen. Vassilios Constantinidis made a brief presentation of the tactical planning for the Games.
The ”theatre of operations” will extend all over Greece, while planning covers 126 Olympic installations, 28 sports and a host of cultural events, he said.
The main axes of planning include security of Olympic installations, protection of dignitaries and members of the Olympic family as well as sports missions, traffic management, the guarding of vital installations and special activities.
On the question of terrorism, a special plan exists for the handling crises, along with establishing an information network and rapid reaction units for the prevention of possible terrorist acts.
Finally, officials said human resources involved in the Games include 21,300 personnel from EL.AS, 3,300 from the coast guard, 1,400 from the fire brigade, 7,000 from various special forces, 2,800 from private security firms and 5,600 volunteers.