09 October, 2003
WASHINGTON, 09/10/2003 (ANA - T. Ellis)
The security of the 2004 Olympic Games is given the highest priority by Greece and the country proves it by commiting huge sums of money and personel for security, said in a letter to the Washington Post Achilles Paparsenos, director of the Greek embassy's press office in Washington.
In his letter, Paparsenos responded to a recent critical report of the same paper concerning the security of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, expressing the belief of the Greeks that the 2004 Games will be the safest possible.
Paparsenos stressed that Greece is spending three times as much as was spent for the security of the Sidney Olympics, saying that 1 billion dollars was set aside for that purpose, while 58,000 persons are being prepared for security duties.
The full text of the letter is as follows:
"We take issue with the alarmist tone of your report on the security plan for the Athens Olympics next year, not least with the scary headline (Washington Post, September 27).
In a post-September 11 environment, the Greek government has given Olympic security the highest priority, spending an unprecedented amount of resources on this task and enlisting international cooperation, a fact praised by the IOC and the U.S. Administration.
It is for this purpose, as your report says, that Greece has committed three times the amount of money (close to $1 billion) and security personnel (some 58,000) used in Sydney or Salt Lake City. An international consortium, under U.S. based Science Applications International Corporation, has been awarded a $280 million contract to install the most sophisticated and up-to-date security and communications systems in the world. Greece is also being advised on security for the Games by a group of top experts from seven countries, including the U.S. and Israel.
Your report makes much of supposed glitches in recent exercises. We have held five such exercises so far, involving various security scenarios, with good results. Besides, the whole purpose of these tests, one year before the Games, is precisely to discover chinks in the armor and take corrective action. Only a day before the publication of your report, IOC President Jacques Rogge expressed his full confidence in the security plan, implemented by a very experienced team put together by the Greek Government and the Athens Organizing Committee.
Despite the gloomy tone of your report, attributed to unnamed intelligence sources, we are confident that the 2004 Olympics in Athens will be the safest possible and that tens of thousands of athletes and spectators will enjoy unique games, when the Olympics return home next August.
Embassy of Greece
Source: Athens News Agency