President Bush met at the White House Tuesday with organizers of the Winter Olympics to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah, in February. The head of the International Olympic Committee says he is satisfied with security surrounding the Winter Games.International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said everything is in place for safe and competitive Winter Games. “The International Olympic Committee is extremely happy with the level of organization, and also the level of preparations for security in Salt Lake City, and we look forward to excellent games,” he said.
Organizers have already sold more than $170-million worth of tickets for the Winter Olympics, twice what was sold for the last Winter Games. U.S. Olympic chief Lloyd Ward says there has been no drop-off in expected attendance following the terrorist attacks of September 11. “There is no question that after ‘911’, our view of security in the United States, and I would suggest in the world, is different today than prior. We have taken every effort to provide a secure, competitive environment for all participants and spectators and sponsors, and we feel we have a very solid plan” he said.
Mr. Rogge says all participating nations are still planning to attend the games. Afghanistan does not have a team because the International Olympic Committee suspended the country two years ago over the Taleban’s refusal to allow women to participate in sports.
In keeping with the Olympic tradition, Mr. Rogge says there will be a United Nations resolution asking members to observe a truce during the two-week games, which start February 8. “There is a tradition in the Olympic games that a host country always proposes a resolution at the level of the General Assembly of the United Nations calling for a truce. I have been informed that the United States of America will propose that resolution that will be proposed to the General Assembly on December the 11,” he said.
U.S. women’s bobsledded Jen Davidson was among the athletes who met with President Bush. She says she is not worried about security at the games. She is concentrating on winning gold.
“As far as security issues go, there is no doubt in my mind that the Olympics will definitely be one of the safest places in the world to be in February. We are just proud to be Americans, right now, and have this opportunity in front of us to represent our country during such a difficult and trying time right now,” she said.
Nearly 2,000 members of the Utah National Guard will be on hand to help with security at the games. They will screen vehicles and visitors at Olympic venues, guard the perimeters of those events and be on hand as part of a rapid deployment force.
— Reprinted with the permission of Voice of America