Athens gives Greek military green light to guard the 2004 Olympics

Monday, February 23, 2004

ATHENS The government has overcome political opposition to the planned deployment of Greek troops to secure this summer's Olympic Games.

Greece's State Council, which decides constitutional issues, has cleared the way for troop deployment during the Olympics, scheduled for Aug. 13-29.

The government plans to use 10,000 soldiers to patrol the Olympic Village and environs, Middle East Newsline reported.

"The State Council determined there is no constitutional problem so 10,000 members of the armed forces will be made available for domestic security missions," Greek Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said.

The deployment of Greek troops has drawn objections by opposition parliamentarians. They asserted that the use of the military for domestic security was unconstitutional. Greece was run by a military dictatorship from 1967 to 1974.

The Olympic security force will be composed of all members of the military. The military will also contribute bomb disposal experts.

In all, Greece has budgeted more than $750 million for Olympic security. During the 2000 Olympics, Australia spent about $250 million.

The key security contingent for the Olympics will be civilian law enforcement. Officials said Greece has organized 41,000 police, firefighters and coast guard personnel to secure the Olympic facilities. Athens has also recruited an additional 500 police officers to bolster security.

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