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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student


Olympic officials evaluate security

Officials will re-evaluate security but vow to go on despite violence that rocked the nation

SALT LAKE CITY -- Stunned Olympic officials said Tuesday that security for the 2002 Winter Olympics will be completely re-evaluated in the wake of terrorist attacks on America. But they vowed the games will go on as planned five months from now.\nA $200 million plan to protect athletes and spectators is no longer sufficient in the wake of Tuesday's attacks, said Mitt Romney, president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.\n"I look for the federal government to revisit the public safety plans for the games," Romney told The Associated Press. "We will be fully engaged in that process and will make it our highest priority."\nBoth Romney and Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, though, said the games would be held as scheduled Feb. 8-24. Romney said they could help serve as a healing force for a troubled world.\n"The games for me are a symbol of the human spirit and world peace," Romney said. "That symbol is needed more today than ever before."\nRomney was in Washington D.C., discussing security plans for the Games when the terrorist attacks hit. He was in the Ronald Reagan building when he and his staff were evacuated to a private residence in Virginia.\nThe day before, Romney met with the director of the FBI and members of Congress to review security plans and press for the final disbursement of $12.7 million to government agencies for Olympic security.\nRomney said until Tuesday's shocking events, he had been satisfied with plans for Olympic security. Now, though, everything has changed.\n"The conduct of public safety in this country can never be the same," he said. "I thought the program was a complete and holistic plan, which did not have gaping holes or obvious weaknesses. I think that characterization has to be completely reevaluated in light of today's tragedy."\nLeavitt held a news conference in Salt Lake City to say the games would "go forward as planned" on Feb. 8-24. He said organizers will do "all we humanly can to make sure the games are safe."\n"This is a sobering reminder that there are evil people in the world who will do outrageous things," he said.\nRomney said he didn't anticipate a military presence to ensure security in Salt Lake and hoped to avoid having the area look like an armed camp.\n"I don't think we're going to look like Israel, with Uzis in the airport," he said.\nU.S. Olympic Committee officials, meanwhile, met with about 250 athletes training in Colorado Springs, Colo., to reassure them that they would be given as much security as possible.\nUSOC president Sandra Baldwin said officials wanted to give comfort to athletes who are away from home.\n"Obviously, the world is not as safe a place as we'd like it to be," Baldwin said. "I think it would be naive of any of us to think the way we perceive our safety in the world hasn't changed."\nSecurity experts in Salt Lake City for a conference said attacks such as the ones in New York and Washington are hard to anticipate and nearly impossible to prevent.\n"If you've got a bomb parked outside a building, you can defuse it," said Roger Davies, a speaker who works for a British security consulting company. "If you've got a 767 headed your way, there's not much you can do."\nAt the 1972 Munich Olympics, 11 Israeli athletes were killed after being taken hostage by Palestinians. Since then, security has become a key part of preparations for all host cities.\nIn Salt Lake City, efforts have focused on training 60 different law enforcement agencies to work together.\nHalf the state's 3,500 officers will be dedicated to Olympic security. The FBI and Secret Service are expected to send 3,000 agents. There also will be 1,000 fire and emergency medical personnel.\nOfficials already have prepared for the possibility of an air attack at the games. Airspace above Olympic venues will be temporary no-fly zones, patrolled by U.S. Secret Service Blackhawk helicopters and jets.\nAt the Salt Lake Organizing Committee Tuesday, employees were given the option of going home for the day.\nMeanwhile, the possibility of a similar attack during the Olympics was on the minds of athletes.\n"The Olympics are definitely a target that would bring the world's attention," U.S. women's skier Jonna Mendes said. "Athletes are out there doing good things and representing their countries in great ways, but it's pretty scary to consider the possibilities."\nRomney also postponed an announcement on Olympic torchbearers, scheduled for Wednesday in New York's Battery Park, which is two blocks from where the World Trade Center stood before the attacks.\nIOC president Jacques Rogge expressed "deepest sympathy" to the families of the victims and sent letters of condolence to President Bush, the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Salt Lake organizers.

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