Athens mayor Dora Bakoyianni says security for the Olympics will cost over $1
billion. The mayor, who is on a tour of European and U.S. cities to promote Athens
ahead of this summer's games says extra measures have been taken for the first
Olympics since the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.
When the Olympic Games were last held in Rome in 1960, security was not a
concern as it is today. This summer's games are taking place in a different
world, and there are fears terrorists could target the event, but Dora Bakoyianni
said that Athens authorities are taking no chances.
"Whatever is humanly and technically possible to do to secure the games is
done," she said. "I believe that during the games Athens will be the most secure
city to be in for the very simple reason that terrorists have preference in
attacking when things calm down."
The mayor added that the security operation for Athens is 3.5 times bigger
than it was for the games in Sydney. Tens of thousands of security officers
will be deployed during the games in August. She says they have been specially
trained for all eventualities, including biochemical and radioactive attacks.
Undersea protection and NATO air coverage are also planned.
For Athens, Ms. Bakoyianni said, the challenge of hosting the games is enormous.
Greece is the smallest country ever to stage the largest ever Olympic Games.
The problem of security was one more major issue to deal with.
A Greek radical group, the Revolutionary Struggle, on Thursday claimed responsibility
for placing three small bombs at a police station earlier this month, which
exploded without injuring anyone.
Ms. Bakoyianni, whose first husband was killed by Greek terrorists, said
the incident was minor and dismissed the group as not a serious terrorist threat.
The mayor also said that the stringent security measures Athens is taking are
not going to take the fun out of the Olympics.
"We want to make the people feel the festivities and we want them to take
part in these festivities," she said. "We'll have, of course, to keep the balance
between the security measures and the festive and the joyful atmosphere. I
hope we will succeed. It will be important for the world for us to succeed."
The Athens mayor said the Olympics are the world's biggest peaceful event
and their success is essential, especially at this time.