The Show Must Go On | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 04.02.2002
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The Show Must Go On

The Salt Lake City Olympics are said to be the most tightly-guarded event in Olympic history, a result of the September 11 attacks.


Protecting the Olympic spirit

Of the 50 US states, Utah has the youngest population, the highest literacy rate, the largest concentration of computer software firms – and at current, probably the highest number of FBI agents ever in one winter resort at a time.

This year, Salt lake City may claim to be the safest games in the history of the Winter Olympics.

In the run-up to the games, 10,000 security personnel are busy getting ready for the opening ceremony on February 8.

As 3,400 athletes and thousands of spectators and workers arrive in Salt Lake City, visitors and participators are greeted by rifles on their arrival at the airport.

Most protected event

The Salt Lake City Olympics are said to be the most tightly-guarded event in Olympic history, a result of the September 11 attacks.

Before the attacks the security funding was estimated at $300 million. Since then the security budget has been increased by further $ 40 million by the US government. Germany's Olympic Committee said it will most likely excede the $1.7 million (1.95 million euro) security budget in order to adequately protect its athletes.

The security measures are vast.

Elite rangers will be patrolling the woods and secret service officers will be securing the site.

Indoor venues hosting sports such as ice hockey will be surveilled by special equipment. Sophisticated surveillance systems such as the FaceTrac system will scan every spectator entering the stadium. The image will then be checked against a database of criminals.

At the venue, visitors will pass through a security checkpoint that includes magnetometers and the screening of bags. Bag size will be limited and guidelines on restricted items will be distributed with tickets.

Overhead, Air Force fighter jets will patrol the air space around Salt lake City, which will become a "No Fly Zone" during the opening and closing ceremonies.

The whole operation will be run by the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command, which was founded in 1998 by the Utah State Legislature to see through a secure, and safe Winter Olympic Games.

IOC meeting

The Salt Lake City Winter Games provide the best response to violence and intolerance on the planet, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge told Olympic leaders on Sunday.

In his first major speech around an Olympics since he took over from Juan Antonio Samaranch last July, Rogge focused on the impact of the September 11 attacks at the opening ceremony of a current IOC session - a four-day meeting of all IOC members in Salt Lake City.

Speaking five days before the games open, the former Olympic yachtsman said the attacks on New York and Washington reminded the IOC that sport was "closely linked to the political and economic framework within which it develops."

The $ 300 million security measures at Salt Lake City are to be discussed at the meeting. The IOC is looking into ways of reducing the cost and size of the Olympics, especially the Summer Games.

"The scale of the Games is a threat to their quality. In a way they risk becoming a victim of their own success," Rogge said.

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