U.S., Israel will guard their own athletes at Olympics

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Israel and the United States will be allowed to bring their own security force to protect athletes during the Olympic Games in August.

Most of the other delegations at the Aug. 13-29 games will be guarded by Greek security, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.

However, Israel and the United States will bring an unspecified number of security guards to protect their athletes, the report said.

[Greece plans to enforce a no-fly zone over the Olympic sites and to hoist a huge aerostat surveillance system, Middle East Newsline reported.]

"Competitors from high risk countries, presumably including the United States, Britain, Spain, and Israel, will have Greek security escorts," the report said. "Some, including the U.S. and Israeli teams, also will have their own security forces. The U.S. State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security will provide the U.S. Olympic team with a security force of 100-110 agents, analysts, and administrators."

The congressional study, entitled "Greece: Threat of Terrorism and Security at the Olympics," reviewed Greece's military preparations for the Olympic Games. They included the installation of 1,400 security cameras stationed at Olympic facilities and central points around Athens.

The Greek government has awarded $250 million to the U.S.-based Science Applications International Corp. to provide components of the security infrastructure.

SAIC heads an international consortium that includes Germany's Siemens, Sweden's Nokia, AMS, E Team, and the Greek companies Altec, Diekat, and Pouliadis-PC Systems. The consortium has been constructing a security command and control center to connect the police, the national first aid center, fire department, coast guard and military.

But the report, authored by Middle East analyst Carol Migdalovitz, did not rule out major deficiencies in security because of a delay in Olympic Village construction. The report said contractors could not install surveillance cameras without walls, and police could not review security pitfalls during construction.

The report cited some of the Israeli security help provided for the Olympic Games. Israel, a member of the seven-nation advisory board on Olympic security, has conducted training to identify and neutralize suicide bombers.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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