ready to rescue Olympic team, by Anthony Dennis, Tom
Allard and Richard Hinds - 6th May 2004
The Sydney Morning Herald)
Australia's Olympic team will travel with armed guards
and have planes ready for quick evacuation after bomb
blasts in Athens reignited fears of a terrorist attack
at the Games.
explosions outside a central police station yesterday
raised new security concerns with less than 100 days
to go before the world's biggest sporting event begins.
police spokesman said one officer was slightly injured
when time bombs badly damaged the station in the Kalithea
district, close to hotels where Olympic officials
will stay during the August 13-29 Games.
believe the bombing, which was preceded by an anonymous
telephone warning, was the work of a local group and
had no connection to the Olympics.
Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has confirmed that
the movement of its athletes in Athens is likely to
be limited to the Olympic village and sport venues,
with bus guards provided by the organisers.
Prime Minister, John Howard, has already approved
a range of security measures to protect the 469 athletes,
as well as officials.
teams of six intelligence, defence and police officials
are already in Athens and another four federal police
officers will be sent to liaise with Greek authorities.
Three security experts will travel with the team.
Howard yesterday ordered ASIO to review the threat
assessment for Greece - a possible precursor to tougher
if Australia would follow the US and Britain in providing
its own armed guards for the team, Mr Howard said
he would not rule out any response. "It's obviously
disturbing," he told the ABC's Lateline last
night. "It re-emphasises the need for tight security."
AOC said it could not dissuade team members from withdrawing
because of personal safety concerns.
AOC can't compel any athlete to represent Australia
at the Olympic Games," said Bob Elphinston, the
secretary-general. "In normal circumstances when
athletes are selected it's probably the greatest sporting
occasion of their life. So they'll need to weigh up
that decision very carefully."
spokesman for Qantas, a team sponsor which is flying
the athletes and officials to and from Athens, said
last night that at least two planes would be diverted,
probably from routes in Europe, to Greece if there
were an emergency that required evacuation.
Elphinston said that athletes would almost certainly
be required to avoid "soft target" public
areas in Athens such as cafes, nightclubs and shopping
Greek organising committee will use 5000 police and
troops to guard venues and the Olympic village. Several
other countries will help with surveillance and intelligence.
Hockeyroos veteran Katrina Powell said she had faith
in the security. "As an athlete I think we are
going to be the most protected people on the planet
at the time. There has just been so much money spent
the immediate security concerns for the AOC is the
arrival of the Olympic torch early next month, when
it comes to Sydney and Melbourne.
this week the NSW and Victorian governments settled
a dispute with the Athens organisers over security
for the two-day event, with armed local police to
protect the relay.
Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, said the Olympics
were an obvious and spectacular target for terrorists.
While the bombing did not look "too serious",
with the Games near the Government wanted to be sure
Minister of Australia
Rafty: Caricaturist and Australian National Treasure,
by Greg Tingle
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Laws - Greg Tingle - 7th September 2000 (discussed
Rafty - Caricaturist and Australian National Treasure
- February 2003
Fenech - Australian boxing legend - 8th January 2004
De Bolfo - Managing Editor, The SportsVine - 27th
Cashman - Walla Walla Press - Sports Journalist -
25th September 2003