Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the sub-committee for this
opportunity to speak on the important matter of Olympic Security.
The timing and the subject matter of this hearing are critical,
and I applaud you for recognizing its importance.
I have had the privilege and honor to represent my country on
five U.S. Olympic teams and to compete in four summer Olympics:
Los Angeles (1984), Seoul (1988), Barcelona (1992) and Atlanta
(1996). In each of these games, security has been an important
consideration and unfortunately, it is even more so now in the
world we live in today.
As an Olympic athlete, I am by no means an expert on security
matters. What I am is an athlete who knows how to prepare for competition.
To be successful, when an athlete trains and prepares for competition,
he or she needs to focus his or her complete and undivided attention
on training and preparing for competition. An athlete cannot be
distracted by any other factors or diversions. My message and plea
to you today is simple: as members of the U.S. Government please
do everything within your power to ensure that the greatest level
of security is available for the Olympics in Athens.
I also have a message to the athletes who are in the midst of
their training for Athens: stay completely focused on your training
and rest assured that you will be competing in an environment that
has the highest level of security ever provided to an athletic
competition. To help raise your comfort level as athletes, consider
- Well over $1.2 billion dollars will be spent for security at
Athens -- which is nearly four times what was spent protecting
the Sydney Games four years ago;
- For the first time ever, the U.S. Government is able to provide
its own protection for U.S. athletes; and
- The U.S. Government has been in close contact and working
collaboratively for years with the Greek and other Governments
on a joint security
program – this will be an international effort.
In my experience of competing in four Summer Olympic Games,
I have always been impressed with the level of security provided
athletes by the host nation. I have never felt threatened or
with security, and that has allowed me to focus on competition.
I am confident that despite the new security concerns about Athens,
the extensive and well-coordinated security programs that will
be in operation will provide all athletes a high level of confidence
and will allow them to focus exclusively on what they came to
do – compete
on the fields of play and connect with new friends from around
I am aware of those who think that sending U.S. athletes to
Athens is an unnecessary risk. Mr. Chairman and members of the
as a member of the U.S. Olympic Team that was not able to compete
in the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow, I urge you to ensure,
that absent some clear and present risk, we never take that course
of action again. Our athletes have been training for much of
their lives for this very special moment. Let’s not take
that away from them.
The beauty of sports, and in fact, the very foundation of the
Olympic movement is that sport transcends all borders and political
strife. Regardless of the conflicts of the world and the various
difficulties in international relations, we have a powerful and
beautiful common interest: the competition of sports. It is my
hope that this Olympics will be the best ever and that with your
continued support, athletes are able to do what they do best – compete,
without any distractions.
I appreciate the opportunity to be able to present my views and
speak on this important matter.