Soldiers to guard Athens Games


ATHENS: The general in charge of security for this year's Athens Olympics said on Monday that 10,000 soldiers would guard the Games because the Sept 11 terror attacks had proved police alone could not guarantee security. 

General Vassilis Yannopoulos said the country had learned from recent attacks around the world. 

“The attacks of Sept 11, and then later in Bali, Yemen, Moscow and Morocco showed that asymmetric threats cannot be guarded against by police alone, but require military involvement from the air, sea and on land.” 

Defence Minister Yannos Papantoniou said the military would assist the police in providing security at the 35 Olympic venues and will secure Greece's borders during the Aug 13-29 Games. 

Yannopoulos added a 200-strong specialist unit would be operating to counter the threat of nuclear, biological and chemical attack. Another 40,000 military personnel will play some role during the Games.  

The US$800mil earmarked for security is one of the biggest budgets in Olympic history. 

Last week, with 200 days to go before the opening ceremony, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge praised the security preparations, but warned: “No one can guarantee 100% security.” 

The United States are among seven countries – the others are Australia,        Britain, France, Germany, Israel and Spain – who are providing specialist anti-terrorism expertise to Greece for the Games. 

The Olympic movement was rocked at the 1972 Munich Games when 11 Israeli athletes were killed after a Palestinian group took them hostage in the athletes' village. – AFP 

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