Facebook Twitter

Everyone is worried about security in Athens

SHARE Everyone is worried about security in Athens

Going to Athens for the Olympics and worried about terrorism?

Join the crowd.

It's on the minds of the athletes, the organizers and the tens of thousands of people who will be working there Aug. 13-29.

The first hour of a one-day Olympic security course for journalists, affectionately dubbed "terrorist training," is enough to rattle anyone's nerves about what might happen at the first post-Sept. 11 Summer Games.

Two hours into the session, I was almost ready to bag the trip and go fly fishing on some quiet stream.

There was nothing alarmist about the tone of the security consultants giving the course, which The Associated Press, the New York Times, USA Today and many other news organizations provided to their Olympic staff. All the terrible things that could happen were delivered in a matter-of-fact manner, as if the subject were a survey of Greek antiquities.

American athletes are receiving security briefings and guidelines on how they should behave, though not similar courses with first-aid tips on knife and bullet wounds, burns, shock, and other nastiness. The photos we saw were graphic and nauseating — all the better, the security folks said, so there's less chance of panicking if we come across the same scenes in an attack.

They showed us gas masks, escape hoods for chemical and biological agents, and well-stocked first-aid kits, some that can be worn as backpacks, complete with a collapsible stretcher.

Shall we traipse around in the sweltering heat of Athens with all that gear, plus helmets, head flashlights, bulletproof vests and cans of pepper spray? Throw in our regular stuff — walkie-talkies, cell phones, notebooks, laptops or cameras — and we'll either fall over flat or never get past a security checkpoint.

How bizarre the world has become when sporting events seem like war zones.