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IOC planning for disaster

Scenario involves plane crashing into opening ceremony

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Long before last week's terrorist attacks, the International Olympic Committee was already planning for the "catastrophe scenario" of a plane crashing into the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Games, an IOC official said Tuesday.

IOC Director General Francois Carrard told reporters at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, the scenario has been part of security preparations since 11 Israeli athletes were killed by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Summer Games in Munich.

He declined to give details, including whether security plans called for shooting down a plane headed for the ceremonies. "Our scenario was, and is, a plane crashing in the midst of the opening ceremony, full of people, full of fuel, broadcast live worldwide on television."

SLOC President Mitt Romney said he was not aware of the IOC's scenario.

"I'm surprised by the comment," Romney told the Deseret News. "However, our security program developed by federal and state agencies has long included plans for airspace restriction, airspace surveillance and intercept capability."

Security in Salt Lake City was at the top of the agenda when the 15-member IOC Executive Board began three days of meetings Tuesday in Lausanne. Romney is now scheduled to address the board on Wednesday, via a video link from Salt Lake City.

Although IOC President Jacques Rogge had already stated the Games would go on despite last week's terrorist attacks, the board added its support and observed a moment of silence for the victims.

Romney is expected to report to the IOC that he has already discussed the changes needed in SLOC's security plans with U.S. officials.

Monday, Romney said it's "very possible" SLOC may get some of the $40 billion approved by Congress to deal with last week's terrorist attacks. He said organizers are looking at new restrictions on bringing backpacks, coolers and other totes into Olympic venues.

The attacks will not stop any athletes from coming to Salt Lake to compete, Romney said. The Iranian Olympic committee, one of 84 nations planning to send teams to the Games, sent a message of support and sympathy to SLOC.

Organizers unveiled a new Olympic pin being sold to raise funds for the victims of the attacks. As of Tuesday morning, more than 33,000 of the $5 pins had been sold, including 20,000 to sponsors.

Monday, the IOC was concerned with whether it could be sued if someone is hurt or killed during the 2002 Games, according to Marc Hodler, an IOC member from Switzerland who serves on both the IOC's executive board and juridical commission.

"These are complicated legal problems," Hodler, a lawyer by profession, told the Deseret News in a telephone interview. "(If) the IOC can prove we did everything possible and recommended by experts available, by the government, then we are not at fault."

But Dick Pound, another member of the IOC who is a lawyer, said the organization's own charter as well as the contract host cities must sign make it clear that the IOC can't be held liable.

"The IOC has no exposure," said Pound, a Montreal tax attorney who served on the executive board until recently.

The host-city contract signed by former Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini and former bid committee President Tom Welch as well as officials from the IOC and the U.S. Olympic Committee does indemnify the IOC.

The indemnification applies to "all payment in respect of any damages, including all costs, resulting from all acts or omissions relating to the Games." The same contract delegates responsibility for all aspects of security to the host country.

"The least of our concerns would relate to liability," Romney said. "Our concern is safety."


Contributing: The Associated Press

E-MAIL: lisa@desnews.com