Sun. Jan 20, 2002
The Security Games
The Security Games – The Winter Olympics in Salt Lake are saddled with two pre-existing conditions not of their making. One, the last Olympics on US soil featured a bombing, what turned out to be the first of several by an extremist. And two, the terror threat that all such events must now take into consideration after 9-11. These forces have combined to generate a massive security effort.
”The overall cost for Salt Lake security—which involves nearly 60 local, state and federal agencies—is expected to reach a whopping $300 million, more money than was spent constructing all the 2002 Olympic venues. Salt Lake will spend the same amount of money on security as Atlanta six years ago, though the Winter Games are a much smaller event. At the Atlanta Games, which averaged 361,000 daily visitors, 10,700 athletes competed from 197 nations. In Salt Lake, which expects an average of 174,000 visitors a day, there will be 2,500 athletes competing from 80 nations.”
And let’s not forget, in addition to the 2,500 athletes and thousands of spectators, ”20 heads of state are expected to attend, in addition to innumerable dignitaries and VIPS from business, politics, sports and the entertainment field.” This includes President Bush and VP Cheney.
To protect this collection of individuals continuing a winter form of the peaceful competitions of the Greeks, it is expected the security force will include: ”2,100 Secret Service agents, 1,200 FBI agents, 2,400 law enforcement officers from across Utah, 650 volunteer law-enforcement officials from 48 states, 4,500 soldiers, including National Guard, Reserve and active forces. In addition, there are elite bands of counterterror teams, SWAT teams and long-range marksmen.”
Teams are bringing antibiotics that target anthrax, and the Aussies won’t be allowed to open any mail. For a while, the Japanese team was planning on bringing gas masks.
Oh, and there might even be time for some skiing and skating.