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Security at the Greek Olympics

Greece had a lot riding Olympics when it discovered it had a problem on its hands: How to show the world it was safe to visit the cradle of democracy and the keeper of ancient antiquities, including the sites of the original Games.


Such is life post-Sept. 11, 2001: fear of terrorism prevails, predominantly as a legitimate concern for personal safety at large crowd gatherings. The key for Greece was to demonstrate to impartial third-party observers that it could indeed protect Olympic patrons, participants and the general public before, during and after the Summer Games.


Ken Bazinet was one of the objective observers selected to review the defense, security, infrastructure and emergency preparedness apparatus Greece and NATO would provide to ensure The Games would open and close without incident.


Ken’s on-the-ground assessment and reporting included meetings and interviews with Defense, Intelligence, Transportation, Finance, and Education ministers, senior-most military commanders and the highest-level national and local public safety officials. The study  also included countless on-site hard-hat tours, discussions with engineers and contractors, confidential briefings specifically into how to protect The Games and the antiquities, the latter including presentations by some of Greece most accomplished archaeologists.


Though cognizant of the fact that something could slip through even the most elaborate security shield, Ken concluded Greece, with the close assistance of NATO, took all available steps to provide a superior, working security and intelligence-gathering operation, to protect The Games  at sites and in air, land and sea buffer zones. Comparing it to the regimen to the U.S. had taken with the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, his inquiry set the tone for much of the related reporting leading up to the Greek Summer Olympics.


Ken’s conclusion was proven when The Games were held without a security incident. However, one issue that confounded Ken and was never answered sufficiently during his study in Athens: How would Greece pay for the massive infrastructure to host the Games? And could Greece handle the debt that would accrue as a result of that undertaking? As we now see, Greece finally has an unfortunate answer to the question: investing in new infrastructure needed for The Games contributed to bankrupting Greece.


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