14 May, 2004
Letters / Editor
The Washington Times
In their alarmist and prejudicial account of the Athens Olympics security plan (May 10), Peter Spatharis and Victoria Toensing indict the world’s foremost security experts, the international community, as well as U.S. Government officials, for allegedly conspiring “in silence” to subject to danger their own athletes and spectators this August.
On the contrary, a broad array of security experts, international organizations, as well as governments, have expressed confidence in the Greek security commitment. Only yesterday, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said that “a tremendous amount of progress is being made with respect to security at the Olympics“. Last week, State Department Spokesman, Richard Boucher, said “We have confidence in Prime Minister Karamanlis’ commitment to host a safe and successful Olympics. We believe that Greece has the will and the means to do that. And along with several nations, we’ll continue to assist the Greek security authorities’ efforts to protect the Olympics against a range of possible threats.”
We agree that “we want the 2004 Olympics remembered for the athletes, not for tragedy». Why else would Greece spend more than a billion dollars on the most advanced and comprehensive security plan ever employed to make the Games as safe as human efforts and resources can ensure.
Security planning for the Games is by no means an unaided Greek operation. It has had the benefit of cooperation with experts from seven countries (including the U.S. and Israel), intelligence sharing, the resources of NATO, and the technical skills of the U.S. based Science Applications International Cooperation, under a $320 million contract.
In addition to the deployment of some 50,000 police, army, coast guard and other personnel, security will be further reinforced by aerial surveillance, and strict controls on land and sea borders. Greek police staff have been trained by American experts, both in Greece and in the U.S., and eight security drills, involving every conceivable threat scenario, have been conducted with the help and participation of U.S. forces.
Greece, in short, with the willing assistance of its friends around the world, is determined to make the 2004 Olympics a secure homecoming, so that both athletes and spectators will enjoy a unique celebration of sports and the Olympic spirit, linking the ancient with the modern.
Embassy of Greece
Source: Press Office of the Embassy of Greece