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USOC touts ‘robust’ security

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DENVER ? Security at the Winter Olympics will be "unprecedented," U.S. Olympic Committee officials said Saturday after the Executive Committee's final meeting before the Games.

"We want to take the concern of security away from the athletes so they can concentrate on performance," USOC chief executive officer Lloyd Ward said. "We simply want to provide a safe environment ? for U.S. athletes and athletes around the world.

"We have taken a very thorough and robust approach to security, with coordination among various agencies and a means of detection, prevention and response that I think is unprecedented."

USOC president Sandra Baldwin noted that an additional allocation of more than $300 million has been made for security in the Salt Lake area.

"I feel very, very good about the progress they have made with security, and I feel very safe going to the Games," she said.

Security measures include a no-fly zone over the opening and closing ceremonies, security sweeps at all venues and the same sort of measures that went into effect in the athletes' village after the terrorist attacks at the 1972 Summer Olympics.

Opening ceremonies are Feb. 8.

The Executive Committee also discussed Ward's vision for fund-raising, which would allocate more sponsor dollars for events spread throughout the year, not just for the Olympics.

"We're thinking in terms of how to reach out to American society," Ward said, "to win hearts and minds as well as to win medals in Olympic competition.

"We're saying that the ideals of the Olympics aren't just every four years, they're every day, 365 days a year. What can we do in society that advances better physical fitness and better nutrition and encourages our youth to be more active?"

The only major action taken by the committee was approval to give the six national governing bodies involved in the Pan American Games an additional $500,000 each this year.

The USOC said it would continue to study a proposal by a group in Pompano Beach, Fla., to locate an Olympic Training Center on 14 acres there for such sports as diving, table tennis, team handball and beach volleyball.

On Monday, Ward and Baldwin will travel to International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, to meet with IOC president Jacques Rogge and discuss a range of topics. They will then stop in Barcelona, Spain, to visit with former IOC head Juan Antonio Samaranch.

They also will participate in the Olympic Torch Run on Jan. 31.