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Safety is on IOC’s mind

Officials want security for S.L. re-examined

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International Olympic Committee leaders are likely to raise new concerns about security at the 2002 Winter Games this week in light of the terrorist attacks against the United States.

IOC officials have already pledged that the Games will go on despite Tuesday's hijacking of four jetliners that crashed into targets in New York City and the nation's capital as well as a Pennsylvania field.

But they have also said Games security — a key concern of the IOC since the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes at the hands of terrorists during the 1972 Summer Games in Munich — now must be re-examined.

"We have to address the security issues as a top, top, top priority, taking into account the assumption the Games may be a target . . . for very violent and other actions," IOC Director General Francois Carrard told the Deseret News.

IOC President Jacques Rogge said in an interview with the Associated Press, "These dramatic events will not awaken us to security issues. But, for legitimate reasons, we will reassess and re-evaluate everything."

Gunilla Lindberg, an IOC Executive Board member from Sweden, was in Salt Lake City at the time of the attacks. She told reporters here Friday that being in Munich as a team official for her country taught her there's no choice but to go on with the Games.

"We have to," Lindberg said. "If you let the terrorists win, I think we are losing everything. We have to continue. We have to be brave. We have to keep on living. We have to adjust to a life, of course, with more security. I hope it will be tight because it's for our own safety."

But she said that should not include military troops on the streets of Salt Lake City.

"No, no, no. I don't want that," Lindberg said. "I think that's the wrong message. I think you have security without having armed troops."

The IOC Executive Board won't have an opportunity to question Salt Lake Organizing Committee President Mitt Romney about safety precautions until Thursday, the last of three days of meetings at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Not that he's going to have much to say about security specifics.

"The specifics must remain confidential," the SLOC president told reporters. "It would not be appropriate to discuss any detailed aspects of security plans outside of the top secret security clearance which exists in the United States."

Romney had planned some time ago to use a money-saving video link to update the IOC on SLOC's preparations and send only the organizing committee's sports director, Cathy Priestner Allinger, to meet with winter sports officials also gathering in Lausanne.

Now Allinger, too, will stay in Salt Lake City and use a video link to address members of the Association of the International Winter Sports Federations during their joint meeting Thursday with the IOC leaders.

Romney said travel would be too difficult. He was in Washington, D.C., last week at the time of the attacks and, because of the airport closures, was unable to return to Salt Lake City until late Thursday.

Lindberg arrived in Salt Lake City Sept. 9 to inspect Olympic venues on behalf of Sweden's national Olympic committee. A group of coaches expected to join her from Stockholm on Tuesday were unable to complete their trip and returned home.

Security is also expected to be a topic among the winter sports federations.

"Security is always a major issue at any Olympic Games and I have no doubt that the subject will be raised in Lausanne as a result of the horrendous events which have taken place," said Mike Thompson, secretary general of the World Curling Federation.

International Luge Federation President Joseph Fendt is among the sports leaders scheduled to travel to Lausanne for the meeting. "He thinks it is a little dangerous to go to the United States right now but he expects it will be safe in November and during the Olympics," luge federation spokesman Wolfgang Harder said.

From Nov. 12 to 18, Olympics lugers will head to Park City to test the 2002 Olympic track. The luge World Cup circuit will then head to Lake Placid, N.Y., for the second race in a seven-race World Cup season.

The International Ski Federation, the body through which skiers and snowboarders qualify for the Winter Games, has no plans to raise issues regarding athlete safety at ski and snowboard venues. "It's quite apparent this matter will be very thoroughly handled," said Sarah Lewis, ski federation secretary general.

The Switzerland-based organization, she said, has "every confidence" that SLOC, the IOC and the IOC Coordination Commission will address all aspects of the security plan in detail. I can't think it necessary for the International Ski Federation to ring any alarm bells in that regard."

The ski federation also doesn't intend to bring up any technical issues regarding Olympic skiing and snowboarding competitions. Lewis said coordination and collaboration between the federation and Games organizers has been excellent, and she expects it to continue in that vein throughout and after the Olympics.


E-mail: lisa@desnews.com

Contributing: Julie Dockstader Heaps, Dennis Romboy, Brady Snyder