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More security — or no Games?

Olympics shouldn’t go on without extra funds, Romney says

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Salt Lake Organizing Committee President Mitt Romney says the 2002 Winter Games shouldn't go on if Olympic security funding isn't increased.

During an impromptu press conference Friday, Romney quickly added that he fully expects Congress will allocate more money for security after he and other Olympic planners meet in Washington, D.C., next Wednesday. Still, if the funding requests are denied, it could be an Olympic-sized deal-breaker.

"I think everybody recognizes you have to have a complete and fully comprehensive security program for the Games, and there's no other option," Romney said.

Without the additional federal dollars, the Olympic security plan wouldn't be complete, Romney said.

"In order to have the Games, the security program has to be entirely complete," he said. "I certainly wouldn't want to be there with all 55 of my family members, nor would anybody else, unless we knew that everything that could possibly be done to assure the safety of spectators and athletes (was) being done."

Organizers have been revising the $200 million Olympic security plan in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The revisions call for additional federal funding; however, Romney wouldn't say how much. He did say the new money is a small amount when compared with the overall security budget.

Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett, both R-Utah, have been working to secure support for the additional funding, and Romney expects Congress will have few problems allocating extra funds for Games security.

Robert Flowers, Utah public safety commissioner and head of the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command, said he would back a decision to cancel the Games if more money doesn't come.

"I would support (cancellation) if we were not able to get these resources that we think we need to have," Flowers said.

Next week Flowers, Romney and a host of Olympic security planners will meet in Washington with a bipartisan congressional delegation, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Secret Service, FBI and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

After those meetings the additional federal money should be freed up, Romney said.

Aside from the federal dollars, local and state taxpayers may have to foot some of the increased security bill; however, who will pay for what hasn't been sorted out yet, Romney said.

"The changes to the security plan will include contributions either of personnel, equipment — potentially funding — from SLOC, local and state as well as federal agencies," Romney said. "But whether there are dollars involved with any particular agency or not really depends on the plan."


E-mail: bsnyder@desnews.com