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|| News Item: Posted 2001-09-28

"Does that mean things will be business as usual as far as the Olympics go? Probably not."
By Trent Nelson

As I'm sure you can understand, this article wasn't planned. And it's being rushed through production. Writing off the cuff about matters of such importance requires a certain sense of seriousness. Thus, I'm dispensing with the Afghanistan Curling Team jokes I had previously prepared.

The International Olympic Committee has announced that it is not planning to cancel the games (though it has given its president, Jacques Rogge, the power to do so if world events dictate).

Photo by
But no one is expecting things to be the same. The international exposure of the Olympic Games make it a prime target for people wanting to give their causes exposure, including terrorists.

Since the attacks in New York and Washington, the various committees in charge of security at the Salt Lake Winter Games have been revising their plans.

At press time a Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) spokesperson could provide almost no information on possible changes to Olympic security. She did assure me that there were no plans to limit access for photographers.

Does that mean things will be business as usual as far as the Olympics go? Probably not.

Nothing is certain at this stage, but you'll probably see increased bag and credential checks at venues. Added security of that type will certainly lead to delays entering venues. From what I have heard, a photographers-only entrance to the Main Press Center is still in the plan. As more information becomes available, I will write about it in Sports Shooter.

In closing, here are some quotes I've culled from articles we've done over the last two weeks:

"The Games represent the greatest qualities of the human spirit, including world peace. The message of the Olympics is even more important today than before. We are making the necessary efforts to ensure that the Games are safe, and that the Olympic message is preserved." Mitt Romney, president and CEO, SLOC

"What is the next big event in the international and national arena? The Olympics. And I have expressed my concerns in pleading for additional money. We're stretched very thin right now [in the county]. . . . This will be an eye-opener for some people." Salt Lake County Sheriff Aaron Kennard

"There is a country in the world which has learned to live under the same threat of terrorism, and that is Israel. I expect that the same kinds of heightened security we see there will be applied to the Olympics. Utahns will find them inconvenient and unfamiliar." Utah Senator Bob Bennett

"My belief is all airspace needs to be restricted throughout, as was the case in Nagano. I don't want to see any holes. "Salt Lake County Sheriff Aaron Kennard

"In Sarajevo, the Yugoslav army was everywhere. Everything went through metal detectors and they had a labyrinth of mazes designed to slow down access to the venues. In Caracas, Venezuela, at the 1983 Pan American Games, they had 18-year-old boys with Uzis, and they looked nervous. They would motion you to go here or there. You just put up with it.," Mike Moran, spokesman and 23-year veteran of the U.S. Olympic Committee

"It was a real traumatic experience for a lot of the guys, seeing people with machine guns outside the village and getting off the trains. It wasn't a real friendly time. The security was too much. This is much nicer. The people have been great and the culture here is one of little crime and few problems. It's safe, and that's a big relief," Chris Chelios, a three-time Olympian and captain of the 2002 men's U.S. Hockey Team (speaking on his experience in Sarajevo to CBS in Nagano, 1998)

"We should do everything we can to increase security, but we don't want to do it at the risk of losing the values of the rest of the country. Otherwise we're going to be stopping cars at the Utah border." Jack Greene, Northeastern University's dean of criminal justice

"When the bomb went off in Centennial Park in Atlanta, there were a lot of recriminations and finger-pointing over why there wasn't more security. In reality, the question had been raised months before about whether we should shut this park down, and the decision was it was an international gathering place that should be open. Salt Lake City is going to have to consider the trade-offs between levels of surveillance and levels of freedom." Jack Greene, Northeastern University's dean of criminal justice

"The image of Salt Lake could end up being one of soldiers with machine guns standing in front of the Delta Center. The organizing committee has to be careful not to lose control of the Games." former SLOC vice president Dave Johnson

"SLOC's position is to inconvenience visitors as little as possible. They're on a timetable because events have got to start on time. I would think SLOC has changed a little bit, and will say 'Maybe convenience isn't as critical as we thought it should be.' They have got to understand that security comes first." Craig Dearden (head of the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command during the Sydney Olympics)

"The appearance of security is one of the last things on our minds. The first priority is to make any adjustments to what is already a solid plan, based on the events of this week. Our plan is very solid as it is and is complete. We can make adjustments quickly." Mitt Romney, president and CEO, SLOC.

So there you have it. Next time we'll try to get back to less-important stuff, like venue layouts, lighting, etc. Hope your tickets and rooms are reserved. My kids' bunk bed is already rented out and besides, there's only one toilet.

(Trent Nelson is a picture editor at The Salt Lake Tribune.)

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