Athens Olympics 2004: U.S. Government Involvement in Security Preparations
CRS Report for Congress
Athens Olympics 2004: U.S. Government
Involvement in Security Preparations
July 28, 2004
L. Elaine Halchin
Analyst in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Athens Olympics 2004:
U.S. Government Involvement in Security Preparations
The Athens Olympics 2004 are the first Summer Games to be held since the
terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Salt Lake City Winter Olympics were
held in February 2002, but the Winter Games involve far fewer people than the
Summer Games. For example, 2,399 athletes competed in 2002; 10,500 athletes are
expected to compete at the Athens Games, August 13-29, 2004. The Greek
government expects 2 million visitors, 21,500 journalists, 5,500 team officials, and
8,000 members of the Olympic family. To help safeguard the Olympics, Greece
reportedly has spent $1.2 billion on security, and plans to provide 25,000 police
officers, 7,000 military troops, 3,000 coast guardsmen, 1,500 firefighters, 3,500
private security personnel, and 5,000 trained volunteers. Major security concerns
include Greece’s location and topography, venues that were not completed until
spring or summer 2004, and the status of a major security system. While the
Paralympic Games will also be held in Athens, September 17-28, 2004, security
concerns have largely focused on the traditional Olympics.
U.S. government involvement in security efforts has taken several different
forms. The United States, along with Australia, France, Germany, Israel, Spain, and
the United Kingdom, form the Olympic Security Advisory Group (OSAG), which
was established by the Greek government. OSAG members have provided various
types of assistance to the Greek government, such as helping to develop a security
plan and providing training on terrorism and explosives. U.S. government agencies
and military forces also, for example, have helped to organize a security planning
exercise, reportedly are prepared to assist with decontamination efforts, and have
provided radiological detection equipment. The U.S. Sixth Fleet will patrol east and
west of Greece during the Games.
Overseeing the effort to safeguard the American team and support personnel in
Athens will be the U.S. Ambassador to Greece, Thomas J. Miller. In 2001, the State
Department assigned a Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) special agent to serve as
Olympic Security Coordinator (OSC). (Among its other missions, DS develops and
implements security programs for safeguarding U.S. diplomatic personnel around the
world.) As noted in State Department budget documents, the department plans to
assign 150 DS special agents to Athens and surrounding areas before, and during, the
Games. Reportedly, an evacuation plan has been developed for the U.S. Olympic
Since January 2003, high-level U.S. government and Greek officials have met
10 times to discuss security issues and arrangements (among other topics, on
occasion). Among the participants in such meetings have been Greece’s Prime
Minister and Public Order Minister, the mayor of Athens, and the President of the
United States, Deputy Secretary of State, and Director of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation. This report will be updated as circumstances warrant.
In troduction ......................................................1
Athens 2004 .....................................................2
U.S. Involvement in Security Efforts...................................5
Olympic Security Advisory Group (OSAG) and
Other International Assistance............................5
U.S. Government Agencies..................................6
Security for the U.S. Olympic Team...............................9
Meetings Between U.S. and Greek Officials........................11
Athens Olympics 2004: U.S. Government
Involvement in Security Preparations
The 2004 Games are the second, but the first summer, Olympics to be held since
the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11,1
events at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. At the 2000 Summer
Olympics in Sydney, 10,651 athletes from 199 nations competed in 300 events.3
Volunteers numbered 46,967.
In recent history, three Olympic Games have been the target of terrorists. The
most deadly terrorist attack occurred in 1972, at the Summer Games in Munich, when
members of the Palestinian group Black September killed two members of the Israeli
Olympic team and took nine others hostage. The remaining hostages were
subsequently killed during a clash between the terrorists and law enforcement
authorities.4 In 1992, a Basque separatist group threatened an attack on the Barcelona
Summer Games, but it never materialized. The Centennial Olympic Park, a venue
at the 1996 Atlanta Games, was the site of a bombing that killed one person and
In the modern history on the Olympics, the Summer Games have been cancelled
three times, because of war: Berlin, 1916 (World War I); Tokyo, 1940 (World War
II); and London, 1944 (World War II). In 1972, following the terrorist attack on
members of the Israeli team, a memorial service was held, and the Games were5
suspended for 34 hours.
1 For information about potential terrorist threats and Greek and international security
planning, see CRS Report RS21833, Greece: Threat of Terrorism and Security at the
Olympics, by Carol Migdalovitz.
2 International Olympic Committee, “Salt Lake City 2002,” available at [http://www.
olympic.org/uk/games/past/index_uk.asp?OLGT=2&OLGY=2002], visited July 2, 2004.
3 International Olympic Committee, “Sydney 2000,” available at [http://www.olympic.org/
uk/games/past/index_uk.asp?OLGT=1&OLGY=2000], visited July 2, 2004.
4 International Olympic Committee, “Munich 1972, Games of the XX Olympiad,” available
at [http://www.olympic.org/uk/games/past/index_uk.asp?OLGT=1&OLGY=1972], visited
June 28, 2004; Dan Gilgoff, “The Meaning of Munich,” U.S. News and World Report, June
After a summary of relevant information about the Athens Games largely from
press reports, this report examines U.S. government efforts to assist the Greek
government with security, and to safeguard the U.S. Olympic team. The next section
consists of a list of meetings between high-level U.S. and Greek government officials
that focused partially or entirely on security issues and preparations.
In 2004, the Olympics return to the site of the first modern Olympic Games,
which were held in 1896. Also known as the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad, the
Athens Games will be held August 13-29, when 10,500 athletes will compete in 28
sports at 38 venues; 5,500 team officials from 201 national Olympic committees
(NOCs) will accompany the athletes. Reportedly, the U.S. Olympic team will number
approximately 550 athletes and 300 support staff.6 The International Olympic
Committee (IOC) expects 21,500 members of the media to attend and report on the
Games. While some athletes may choose to stay elsewhere, the Olympic village has7
room to house 16,000 athletes and team officials. Also expected at the Olympics are
2 million visitors. Greece plans to provide 25,000 police officers, 7,000 military
troops, 3,000 coast guardsmen, 1,500 firefighters, 3,500 private security personnel,9
and 5,000 trained volunteers. Additional forces will be provided by the Hellenic
Armed Forces.10 Reportedly, Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis has stated11
that Greece will muster a total security force of 70,000. By mid-May 2004, Greece’s
security bill for the Olympics reportedly had reached $1.2 billion. According to the
Washington Post, security costs for recent Olympics were $310 million for the 2002
Winter Games in Salt Lake City; $210 million for the 2000 Summer Games in12
Sydney; and $300 million for the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has a $170 million insurance
policy for the Athens Olympics in the event that the Games are cancelled completely,
or in part, because of terrorism, or some other catastrophic event, such as an
earthquake. This is the first time that the IOC has obtained an insurance policy,
6 “Rogge Discusses Security Matters,” Washington Post, May 20, 2004, p. D5.
7 International Olympic Committee, “Athens 2004, Games of the XXVIII
Olympiad,”available at [http://www.olympic.org/uk/games/athens/index_uk.asp], visited
May 11, 2004.
8 Hellenic Republic, Embassy of Greece, “Embassy of Greece Olympic Security — A
Summary,” press release, June 11, 2004, available at [http://www.greekembassy.org/
Embassy/content/en/Folder.aspx?office=1&folder=24], visited July 1, 2004.
11 Thomas Heath, “Greek Minister Touts Preparation,” Washington Post, May 8, 2004, p.
12 Amy Shipley, “Greece Playing It Safe with Olympics,” Washington Post, Jan. 4, 2003, p.
although IOC President Jacques Rogge attempted to obtain insurance for the Salt
Lake City Games in 2002. Apparently, the cost was prohibitive. (The IOC plans to
obtain insurance for the 2006, 2008, and 2010 Olympics.) The Athens 2004
Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (ATHOC) has opted not to seek an
insurance policy for the Summer Games.13
Chief among security concerns are Greece’s location and topography; venues
and associated infrastructure that were not completed until spring or summer 2004;
and the status of a major security system. Greece consists of a mainland and islands,
of which 169 are inhabited; it has more coastline than the United States, and is close
to the Middle East.14 Geographic ease of access is complemented by legal means of
access: Greece is a member of the European Union (EU), and visitors from other EU
nations are not subject to immigration checks.15
Finishing construction months, if not a year, before the commencement of the
Olympic Games allows enough time for installing and testing security systems,
training technicians, and troubleshooting the systems. In Sydney (2000) and
Barcelona (1992), security and communication systems were operational more than
a year before the respective Games began.16 As of July 3, 2004, the main Olympic
park and soccer stadium in Greece were still under construction.17 A security expert
who oversaw security operations for athletes’ housing in Atlanta (1996), Robert
Lang, described what he found in Atlanta prior to the Games: “You can’t really plan
security until construction is finished .... We had the plans for the Olympic Stadium
in hand, but it wasn’t until we actually walked it and saw, ‘Hoooo, those exit routes
are too narrow,’ or what area is blocked from your view, that we could figure out
what was the weakness of the facility.”18 A cautionary report from Sydney involves
metal detectors. Officials discovered, at a non-Olympic event held prior to the 2000
Summer Games, that, because there were an insufficient number of metal detectors
for screening spectators entering the stadium, volunteers turned off the detectors. In
response, more entrance points with metal detectors were added for the Olympics.19
13 Amy Shipley, “IOC Has Insurance for Athens Olympics,” Washington Post, April 28,
2004, pp. D1, D7; Tim Layden, “Fear Factor?” Sports Illustrated, May 17, 2004, p. 85. A
June 2004 ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court, which allows victims of the bombing at the
1996 Summer Games to sue the Atlanta Committee for the Olympics, might prompt
organizers of future games to seek insurance policies. (Ariel Hart, “Victims of Olympics
Bombing Win Right to Sue Organizers,” New York Times, June 29, 2004, p. A20.)
14 Raymond Bonner and Anthee Carassava, “Delays in Athens Raise Concern on Olympic
Security Readiness,” New York Times, July 3, 2004, p. A9.
15 Craig Whitlock, “Greek Domestic Security an Issue Before Olympics,” Washington Post,
May 14, 2004, p. D4.
16 Bonner and Carassava, “Delays in Athens Raise Concern on Olympic Security
Readiness,” July 3, 2004, pp. A1, A9.
17 Ibid., p. A1.
18 Kim Clark, “Targeting the Olympics,” U.S. News and World Report, June 14, 2004, p. 39.
19 Bonner and Carassava, “Delays in Athens Raise Concern on Olympic Security
Readiness,” p. A9.
A major component of the Olympic security system will be, if completed, a
$312 million system that includes infrared and high-resolution cameras; radio,
communications, and computer networks; and command centers.20 Science
Applications International Corporation (SAIC) announced on May 22, 2003, that it
had won the contract, and, reportedly, the original delivery date was nearly a year
later, May 28, 2004.21 However, on July 7, 2004, a news article reported that Greek
government officials have determined that the system is not satisfactory. The same
article indicated that the security system in the athletes’ village would not be
operational before July 30, and that SAIC officials and government representatives
have not yet agreed on how to set up a security system in the port of Piraeus.22
The Paralympic Games are held in the same year and, since 1988, at the same
venues as the Olympic Games.23 (Athletes with physical disabilities may compete
in the Paralympic Games.) The 2004 Paralympic Games will be held September 17-
28 in Athens. The Parlaympics have not received the same level of attention with
regard to security that the Olympics have received, which suggests that the Olympics
might be viewed as a more likely target. The size of the Olympics, including the
number of athletes and spectators, the extent of television coverage, and the presence
of internationally known athletes (particularly, well-known American athletes, such
as the members of the U.S. men’s basketball team) might contribute to the Olympics’
attractiveness as a potential target for terrorists. Fewer athletes participate in the
Paralympics (3,843 competed in Sydney),24 and television coverage of the
Paralympics will not be comparable to the 1,210 hours of television coverage
scheduled by NBC Universal networks for the Athens Games.25 Furthermore,
20 Science Applications International Corporation, “SAIC Wins IT Security Contract for
news/2003/may/22.html], visited July 7, 2004; Jeanine Herbst, “SAIC to Stand Watch over
Athens Olympics,” Washington Business Journal, May 22, 2003, available from CRS;
Associated Press, “Security Network Will Be Ready, Official Promises,” Washington Post,
June 3, 2004, p. D2.
21 Science Applications International Corporation, “SAIC Wins IT Security Contract for
2004 Athens Olympics”; Associated Press, “Security Network Will Be Ready, Official
Promises,” p. D2.
22 “New Games Security Headache,” Kathimerini, July 7, 2004, available at [http://www.
ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_politics_100006_07/07/2004_44720], visited July 12,
23 For information about U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee
(USOC), see [http://www.usparalympics.com], visited July 1, 2004. The first Olympic-type
games for athletes with disabilities were held in Rome in 1960. (International Paralympic
Committee, “Paralympic Games,” available at [http://www.paralympic.org/games/01/asp],
visited July 1, 2004.)
24 International Paralympic Committee, “Paralympic Games.” Consistent with the Olympics,
fewer paralympic athletes participate in the winter games than in the summer games. For
example, 416 athletes from 36 countries participated in the Salt Lake City Paralylmpics in
2002. (International Paralympic Committee, “Paralympic Winter Games,” available at
[http://www.paralympic.org/games/0202.asp], visited July 1, 2004.)
25 National Broadcasting Corporation, “Historic Olympic Broadcast Set for August,”
terrorists might calculate that the moral outrage of the world community over an
attack on disabled athletes would outweigh any perceived gains on the terrorists’ part.
However, some may be concerned that terrorists might mount an attack on the
Paralympics. Would-be terrorists might anticipate that, following an uneventful
Olympics, security procedures would be loosened, which could make an attack easier
to stage. Additionally, depending on what situations or issues (including those
deemed to be innocuous) arise during the Olympics involving, for example,
transportation, the electrical grid, plumbing, crowd management, access points, or
accommodations, would-be terrorists might be able to identify vulnerabilities in
Olympic venues and logistics. In turn, they might be able to capitalize on this
information for the purpose of planning and executing an attack during the
Paralympics, although they would have a limited amount of time within which to act.
U.S. Involvement in Security Efforts
The information that follows comes mostly from news accounts. Details about
security plans and initiatives generally have not been publicized. Security measures
could be compromised if comprehensive, detailed information were made available
to the general public. Another reported reason for minimizing the amount of
information released is that the Greek people have a “strong aversion to foreign
services operating in their country.”26
Olympic Security Advisory Group (OSAG) and Other International
Assistance. In 2000, the Greek government contacted seven countries, asking
them to assist with security for the 2004 Olympics. The group’s initial meeting, held
in December 2000, resulted in the establishment of the Olympic Security Advisory
Group (OSAG). (Some materials refer to this organization as the Olympic Advisory
Group, or OAG.27) Original members include Australia, France, Germany, Israel,28
Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Reportedly, Greece added
Russia to the advisory group in December 2003.29
available at [http://www.nbcolympics.com/tvlistings/index.html], visited July 6, 2004.
26 Bonner and Carassava, “Delays in Athens Raise Concern on Olympic Security
Readiness,” p. A9.
27 Hellenic Republic, Secretariat General of Information and Secretariat General of
Communication, “Athens 2004 Security,” available at [http://www.mediainfo2004.gr/cgibin/
hweb?-A=157&-V=olympicissues&-w=], visited July 7, 2004.
28 U.S. Department of State, Embassy of the United States, Athens, Greece, “Olympic
Security Coordination,” available at [http://www.usembassy.gr/olympics/security1.html],
visited June 26, 2004.
29 “Olympic Security Planning to Include NATO, Russia,” Kathimerini, Dec. 4, 2003,
As reported by the media, OSAG members have provided various types of
assistance to the Greek government. Member countries have helped to develop a
security plan for the Olympics; France, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United
States have trained Greek police officers regarding terrorism and explosives; and
Israel has provided training on how to handle suicide bombers.30 Mindful that
would-be terrorists might attempt to infiltrate construction crews and plant
explosives inside, or under, Olympic venues, a tactic that was successful in a stadium
in Chechnya in 2004, OSAG members have advised the Greeks to conduct
background checks on construction site employees. Apparently, some employees
have traveled from countries where Al Qaeda has had cells.31
The United States also participates in a multinational effort to pool intelligence,
which is known as the Olympic Intelligence Center. The U.S. contribution consists
of a task force composed of representatives from more than a dozen federal
agenci es. 32
U.S. government personnel, along with representatives from other countries,
have participated in security exercises in Greece. “Shield of Heracles 2004,” a two-
week security drill that began on March 10, 2004, included simulated security
systems breakdowns, bomb blasts, chemical warfare attacks, a plane hijacking, and
an epidemic disease outbreak. In the exercise,1,500 Greek troops were joined by 400
American security forces and 100 military personnel from other countries, according
to the Greek press.33 As reported on the CBS news website, a joint Greek-U.S.
exercise was conducted in mid-May. Among the drill’s 77 scenarios were a rocket
attack on a plane, a suicide bombing, the poisoning of the chief Olympic organizer,
and a hostage-taking on the Queen Mary II.34
U.S. Government Agencies. As reported in the Washington Post, the U.S.
government has established an interagency task force, consisting of personnel from
[http://www.ekathime rini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_p o litics_100010_04/12/2003/37042],
visited July 7, 2004.
30 Liz Clarke, “No Terror Threat to ‘04 Games,” Washington Post, Jan. 17, 2004, p. D6.
31 Bonner and Carassava, “Delays in Athens Raise Concern on Olympic Security
Readiness,” p. A9; Clark, “Targeting the Olympics,” p. 40. Chechnya’s President was
killed in May 2004 by a bomb that had been implanted in a stadium while it was under
construction. (Clark, “Targeting the Olympics,” p. 40.)
32 Susan Schmidt, “New Fears about Olympics,” Washington Post, May 6, 2004, p. A11.
33 “Huge Greek-US Military Drill,” Kathimerini, March 6, 2004, available at [http://www.
ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/news/content.asp?aid=40358], visited July 12, 2004; “Vast Olympic
Security Drill Starts,” Kathimerini, March 10, 2004, available at [http://www.
ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/news/content.asp?aid=40490], visited July 12, 2004; “Greece
Begins Multinational Security Exercises for Olympics,” Washington Post, March 11, 2004,
p. D2; “Shield of Hercules ‘A Success’,” Kathimerini, March 26, 2004, available at
[http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/news/content.asp?aid=41081], visited July 12, 2004.
34 “Terror Drills for Summer Olympics,” CBSNews.com, May 19, 2004, available at
[http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/05/25/uttm/main619506.shtml], visited July 8, 2004.
the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Department of State, Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI), and Department of Defense (DOD), to aid Greece on security
matters. The mission of the task force is to observe security preparations underway
in Athens, and to assist in troubleshooting security problems.35
In October 2001, the State Department assigned a Special Agent from the
Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) to serve full-time as Olympic Security
Coordinator (OSC). (It is not known what relationship, if any, exists between the
OSC and the interagency task force.) In addition to working with representatives
from the six other nations who are members of OSAG, the OSC is responsible for
coordinating all U.S. government assistance provided to the Greek government,
advising Greek police on security matters, and developing an operational plan to
protect U.S. interests during the games.36
Other steps reportedly taken by U.S. government agencies include the following:
!The U.S. military helped organize a planning exercise at its
European command headquarters in November 2003 to aid Greek
security personnel in identifying gaps in their security plans.37
!Naval Support Activity (NSA) Souda Bay, a U.S. Navy installation,
is stockpiling emergency medical equipment. Located on the island
of Crete, the base is capable of establishing and operating
decontamination sites and field hospitals with a few hours’ notice.38
!The CIA is one of the security services that has advised Athens
organizers on designing credential cards, 80,000 of which will be
issued to athletes, journalists, and officials.39
!The FBI’s Counterterrorism Division has helped to establish
intelligence-sharing arrangements among various law enforcement
and security agencies involved in providing security for the Games.
The FBI is also helping to secure venues and create a rapid
communications system that would be used in the event of an
35 Gregory L. Vistica, “For Athens Olympics, a Security Gap,” Washington Post, Sept. 27,
36 U.S. Department of State, Embassy of the United States, Athens, Greece, “Olympic
Security Coordination,” available at [http://www.usembassy.gr/olympics/security1.htm],
visited June 26, 2004.
37 Brian Murphy, “FBI Director Prods Greece on Security Fears for Olympics,” Philadelphia
Inquirer, Nov. 8, 2003, p. A12.
38 Associated Press, “U.S. Base Helps Boost Olympic Security,” New York Times (online),
Jan. 22, 2004, available from author.
39 Associated Press, “Olympics Tightening Credentials Security,” New York Times (online),
Feb. 11, 2004, available from author.
attack.40 A Washington Post article stated that “a sizable FBI
response team” will be stationed outside Greece.41
!The U.S. Sixth Fleet, and the Italian and Turkish navies, will patrol
east and west of Greece during August 2004.42 The Sixth Fleet
operates in the Mediterranean Sea and adjacent areas, and has
operational control of the following units: a carrier strike group, an
expeditionary strike group, a Marine expeditionary unit (MEU), a
logistics force, a naval special warfare task force, a force
commander, land-based maritime patrol aircraft, and a submarine
force.43 Vice Admiral Henry G. Ulrich III is the commander of the
!The Department of Energy (DOE) provided handheld radiological
detection equipment to Greek officials on May 25, 2004.44
According to the Associated Press, the value of the detectors
exceeds $26 million; permanent detectors will be installed at 32
airports, seaports, and Olympic venues; and police officers, border
guards, customs officers, and coast guardsmen will receive portable
equipment.45 The Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security
Administration (NNSA) is training Greek personnel to use and
maintain the equipment, securing several sealed radiological sources
in Greece, and discussing with Greek officials how NNSA personnel
could provide technical assistance for emergency response systems.46
Another news article suggested that a small team of DOE personnel
who are experts on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) will be
stationed nearby during the Olympics, but it is not known where they
will be based.47
40 Curt Anderson, “FBI Chief to Check Olympics Security,” Denver Post, Nov. 3, 2003,
available from author.
41 Schmidt, “New Fears about Olympics,” p. A11.
42 “3 Foreign Navies on 2004 Duty,” Kathimerini, Feb. 28, 2004, available at [http://www.
ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/news/content.asp?aid=40096], visited July 12, 2004.
43 U.S. Navy, U.S. Sixth Fleet, “Organization,” available at [http://www.c6f.navy.mil/
organization.htm], visited July 2, 2004.
44 U.S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration, “U.S. Department
of Energy Provides Nuclear Security Assistance for 2004 Athens Olympics,” press release
no. R-04-112, May 25, 2004, available at [http://www.nn.doe.gov], visited June 29, 2004.
45 Associated Press, “Greece Gets Radiation Detectors,” Washington Post, May 26, 2004,
46 Joe Fiorill, “Agency Helps Greece Defend Against Olympic ‘Dirty Bomb’ Attack,”
Government Executive, Daily Briefing, Jan. 14, 2004, available at [http://www.govexec.
com], visited July 2, 2004.
47 Schmidt, “New Fears about Olympics,” p. A11.
!Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security James Loy and Director
General of the Greek Directorate General of Customs and Excise
Vassilios Manolopoulos announced, on June 24, 2004, that Greece
will participate in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
container security initiative (CSI). CBP plans to deploy a team of
officers to the port of Piraeus. The objective is to identify any cargo
destined for the United States that poses a risk for terrorism. To
help ensure that the CSI initiative is operational before the Olympics
begin, CBP will loan Greece nonintrusive inspection technology.48
!U.S. experts in chemical and biological substances have been
training Athenian physicians.49 Apparently, the training focuses on
how to treat victims of chemical or biological attacks.
Security for the U.S. Olympic Team
Overseeing the effort to safeguard the American team and support personnel
will be the U.S. Ambassador to Greece, Thomas J. Miller.50 Ambassador Miller was
scheduled to leave Greece before August 2004, but now will remain in place until
after the Olympics.51 As reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the USOC chief
of security, Larry Buendorf, will assist in coordinating security for the U.S. Olympic
t eam . 52
48 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “Greece
Joins the CBP Container Security Initiative,” press release, June 24, 2004, available at
[ h t t p : / / www.cbp.gov/ xp/ cgov/ n e w s r o o m/ h i g h l i g h t s / 06242004_greece_initiative.xml],
visited July 6, 2004. The port at Pireaus is of particular concern to security officials because
a variety of yachts and ships housing Olympic visitors and dignitaries will be anchored
there. As reported in the Homeland Security Monitor, “The shortage of top-grade hotel
rooms in Athens pressed Pireaus’ port into service. The vessels, and other special yachts,
will house some of the games’ most prominent guests, including heads of state.... About
including the world’s largest passenger ship, the Queen Mary 2.... For more than two weeks,
one section of the port will host the world’s largest concentration of major passenger ships,
hence offering a prime location for terrorist activity” (Homeland Security Monitor, “Pireaus
Port Security to Create Impregnable Fortress,” July 7, 2004, available at [http://www2.
intellibridge.com/rst/070704.htm], visited July 7, 2004.
49 Clark, “Targeting the Olympics,” pp. 35-36.
50 Information provided by telephone by the U.S. Olympic Committee, Government
Relations, to the author on July 12, 2004.
51 Gregory L. Vistica, “For Athens Olympics, a Security Gap,” p. A18.
52 Jay Weiner, “Olympic Security Is His Herculean Task,” Star Tribune, May 20, 2004, p.
1A. A news article reports that the annual security budget for the Olympic complex in
Colorado Springs, which houses the U.S. Olympic Committee’s offices and a training
center, is $1 million. Among the items covered by the budget are approximately 20 security
contract officers, a video surveillance network, and a card-access system to facilities. (Meri-
Jo Borzilleri, “Keeping an Eye on Things,” Gazette.com, Dec. 21, 2003, available at [http://
usoc.gazette.com//fullstory.php? id=1505], visited June 20, 2004.
State Department budget documents indicate that the department’s Bureau of
Diplomatic Security will provide federal agents to accompany the U.S. Olympic
team. In its FY2004 budget request, the department sought a total of $4,486,000 for
Diplomatic and Consular Programs (DCP) ($1,723,000) and worldwide security
upgrades ($2,763,000) involving the Athens Olympics.53 The latter amount includes
funds for the department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS), which will
provide additional security for the United States Olympic Team participating in
the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. This protection is above and
beyond normal levels provided by State for such events and is based on an
assessment of available security resources and other factors related to the size
and site of the event. To meet the requirement, 150 Special Agents will be
assigned on temporary duty [TDY] to Athens and environs prior to and during
the Olympic games. The requested funding will cover airfare, per diem, lodging,54
shipment of armored vehicles, local transportation, and other support costs.
The Bureau of Diplomatic Security is the security and law enforcement arm of
the State Department. Among its other missions, DS develops and implements
security programs for safeguarding U.S. diplomatic personnel around the world.
More than 486 special agents are assigned to diplomatic missions in 157 countries.55
Special agents who are stationed at U.S. diplomatic missions overseas are known as
regional security officers (RSOs). An RSO serves as a personal adviser to the
ambassador or chief of mission on all security issues, and coordinates all elements
of a mission’s security program.56
Speculation continues about whether foreign security forces accompanying their
nations’ teams will be allowed to carry weapons while traveling in Greece. Noting
that it is not new or unusual for an Olympic team to bring its own security team,
Jacques Rogge, IOC President, reportedly stated that the decision on whether foreign
security personnel would be allowed to carry arms is a matter for the Greek
government to determine. The same news source that cited Rogge’s comment noted
that Greece’s Public Order Minister, Giorgos Voulgarakis, has said repeatedly that
53 Section 205 of S. 2144, the FY2005 Foreign Affairs Authorization Act, as reported, would
require the Secretary of State to seek, “to the extent practicable, reimbursement from the
United States Olympic Committee for security provided” to the American team by DS
Special Agents during the Athens Olympics. S. 2144 was placed on the Senate Legislative
Calendar on March 18, 2004.
54 U.S. Department of State, The Budget in Brief — Fiscal Year 2004, available at
[http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/17243.pdf], visited June 30, 2004.
55 U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, “Frequently Asked Questions,”
available at [http://www.state.gov/m/ds/about/faq], visited June 28, 2004; U.S. Department
of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, “A Brief History,” available at [http://www.
state.gov/m/ds/about/history/index.htm], visited June 28, 2004. Bureau of Diplomatic
Security special agents are federal law enforcement officers.
56 U.S. Department of State, “Protecting People,” available at [http://www.state.gov/m/ds/
protection/c8756.htm], visited June 28, 2004.
no foreign security forces will be allowed to carry arms while in Greece.57 In mid-
April 2004, Olympic organizers denied that Israel, the United Kingdom, and the
United States have made “unofficial deal[s]” to allow their security personnel
accompanying athletes to carry arms.58 Nonetheless, speculation continues that teams
from the United States, and other high-risk nations, will be accompanied by armed
personnel.59 As reported in a June 14, 2004, article, “U.S. security experts predict
that a few countries will deploy their own contingents of armed guards.”60 Another
news article stated that approximately half of a 45-person security contingent
accompanying American athletes during pre-Olympic training at a camp on the Greek
island of Crete would have permits from the Greek government allowing them to
carry weapons. Dogs trained to detect explosives will also be part of the security
team, and FBI agents visited Crete as part of their efforts to develop a security plan.
A training camp is scheduled to begin in early August. The same news article cited
a spokesman for the Greek police reiterating the government’s position that foreign
security forces will not be allowed to carry weapons during the Olympics.61
Other possible security measures for the American team, as reported in a news
article, include robust security for airplanes carrying American athletes to Greece; an
evacuation strategy; and additional protection from Greek and international
authorities (which will also be provided to athletes from other high-risk nations, such
as Israel and Spain).62 Larry Buendorf, head of security for the U.S. Olympic
Committee, has said that armed air marshals probably would accompany all flights
carrying U.S. Olympic athletes to Greece.63
Meetings Between U.S. and Greek Officials
The challenges of safeguarding the Athens Summer Games have been discussed
at the highest levels of the U.S. and Greek governments. Senior-level officials from
the United States and Greece have met numerous times to discuss security
considerations and arrangements.
The following list is illustrative of the meetings that have taken place between
officials from the two countries since January 1, 2003. The list includes only those
meetings that were reported by the news media, and that were reported as including
57 “Terror Drills for Summer Olympics.”
58 “Pair Leads, Falls Behind, Then Wins Kayak Race,” Washington Post, April 17, 2004, p.
59 “Terror Drills for Summer Olympics.”
60 Clark, “Targeting the Olympics,” p. 36.
61 “Armed U.S. Agents Permitted in Crete,” Washington Post, July 10, 2004, p. D4.
62 Amy Shipley, “Security to Be Boosted for U.S. Athletes,” Washington Post, April 1, 2004,
p. D1. It has been reported that the Australian Olympic Committee will have two jets
available to evacuate its nation’s team in the event of an emergency. (Layden, “Fear
Factor?” p. 85.)
63 Shipley, “Security to Be Boosted for U.S. Athletes,” p. D2.
discussions about security at the Athens Olympics. It is possible that additional
meetings were held, but not publicized.
!November 7, 2003: FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III met with
security officials in Athens, including then-Public Order Minister
Giorgos Floridis, the Chief of the Greek Police, and the Director
General of the Hellenic National Intelligence Service.64
!January 15-16, 2004: Greece’s Public Order Minister visited
Attorney General John Ashcroft, National Security Adviser
Condoleezza Rice, then-Director of Central Intelligence (DCI)
George Tenet, FBI Director Mueller, Deputy Secretary of State
Richard Armitage, State Department Coordinator for Counterrorism
J. Cofer Black, Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security
Francis X. Taylor, and other Administration officials.65
!March 23, 2004: A State Department counterterrorism official, Jose
Rodriguez, and the U.S. Ambassador to Greece, Thomas Miller, met
with the chief of the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee for the
Olympic Games (ATHOC), Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, and
ATHOC’s managing director, Yiannia Spanoudakis.66
!Mid-March 2004: Ambassador Miller met with Defense Minister
Spilios Spiliotopoulo; accompanied by Vice Admiral Ulrich,
commander of the Sixth Fleet, Miller also met with Public Order
Minister Voulgarakis on March 15.67
!March 29, 2004: A delegation of U.S. government officials,
including Deputy National Security Adviser for Combating
Terrorism and Deputy Assistant to the President Frances Townsend
and the FBI’s Assistant Director of the Counterterrorism Division,
Gary M. Bald, met with Greece’s Public Order Minister
64 Brian Murphy, “FBI Director Prods Greece on Security Fears for Olympics,” Philadelphia
Inquirer, Nov. 8, 2003, p. A12.
65 Embassy of Greece, “In Top-Level Consultations in Washington,” press release, Feb. 14,
66 “Athens Meetings Focus on Olympic Security,” Kathemerini, March 24, 2004, available
visited July 9, 2004.
67 “NATO Response Soon,” Kathimerini, March 16, 2004, available at [http://www.
ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_politics_100012_16/03/2004_40725], visited July 9,
2004; “U.S. Conducts a Security Check,” Chicago Tribune, March 16, 2004, available from
68 “Olympic Security,” Kathimerini, March 30, 2004, available at
!April 15, 2004: Representatives Porter J. Goss, the chairman of the
House Committee on Intelligence, and Ray LaHood met with Public
Order Minister Voulgarakis, the Chief of the Greek Police,
Lieutenant General Fotis Nasiakos, and the Director General of the
Hellenic National Intelligence Service, Pavlos Apostolides.69
!May 6-7, 2004: Public Order Minister Voulgarakis met with
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, National Security Adviser
Rice, Deputy Secretary of State Armitage, FBI Director Mueller, and
then-Director of Central Intelligence Tenet.70
!May 20, 2004: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with
President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, and
members of the House Committee on International Relations and the
Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.71
! June 6-8, 2004: Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyiannis met with Deputy
Secretary of State Armitage, Deputy National Security Adviser for
Combating Terrorism and Deputy Assistant to the President Frances
Townsend, Senators Paul Sarbanes and Gordon Smith, and
Representative Henry J. Hyde, the chairman of the House
Committee on International Relations.72
[ h t t p : / / www. e ka t h i me r i n i . c o m/ 4 d c gi / _w_articles_politic s _100028_30/03/2004_41208],
visited July 9, 2004. The news article identified the FBI official as Gary Ball. However,
the FBI website, available at [http://www.fbi.gov/libref/executives /bald.htm], identified this
individual as Gary M. Bald. On April 30, 2004, President Bush announced his intention to
appoint Frances Townsend Assistant to the President and Homeland Security Adviser. The
same announcement stated that Ms. Townsend would retain her positions as Deputy
Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for Combating Terrorism
until a replacement was found. (White House, Office of the Press Secretary, “Personnel
Announcement,” press release, April 30, 2004, available at [http://www.whitehouse.gov/
news/releases/2004/04/20040430-9.html], visited July 9, 2004.
69 “U.S. Group Discusses Security with Greeks,” Washington Post, April 16, 2004, p. D9.
70 Embassy of Greece, “Olympic Security Is One of the Main Issues Discussed During
Bilateral Visits,” press release, June 11, 2004, available at [http://www.greekembassy.org/
Embassy/content/en/Folder.aspx?office=1&folder=24], visited July 1, 2004.
71 Embassy of Greece, “Relations of Cooperation Between Greece and the United States
Have Been Reaffirmed,” press release, May 21, 2004, available at [http://www.
greekembassy.org/Embassy/content/en/Folder.aspx?office=1&folder=24], visited July 1,
2004; Embassy of Greece, “Olympic Security Is One of the Main Issues Discussed During
72 Embassy of Greece, “Mayor of Athens, Dora Bakoyiannis, Visits Washington (June 6-8,
!July 1, 2004: Public Order Minister Voulgarakis met with General
James Jones, U.S. Marine Corps, Supreme Allied Commander
Preparing to host the first Summer Olympic Games since September 11, 2001,
Greece has had a monumental task: constructing new venues, refurbishing or
upgrading existing facilities and infrastructure, and ensuring that appropriate security
measures are designed and implemented. The cost to Greece alone of providing an
extensive and rigorous security system reportedly exceeds $1 billion, far outstripping
the security costs of other recent Games.
Official documents and news reports suggest that the U.S. government is
involved in a variety of efforts to help safeguard the 2004 Olympics Games and the
U.S. Olympic team. The State Department appears to have primary responsibility for
the security of American athletes and support staff. Other U.S. government entities,
such as the FBI and the military, also have participated in security preparations, and
may be involved in providing security or support services during the Games. A
number of publicly reported meetings between senior-ranking officials of the federal
government and the Greek government have been reported. There does not appear
to be available any one source documenting the amount spent by the U.S.
government on Olympic-related security.
As a result of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and the 2004 Athens Olympics,
U.S. government agencies may have gained valuable experience in securing Games
held in the United States as well as assisting with security and protecting the
American team at Games held overseas. This experience may serve the U.S.
government well at upcoming Games: Torino, Italy (2006); Beijing, China (2008);
and Vancouver, Canada (2010).74
73 “Games Security Moves into Action,” Kathimerini, July 2, 2004, available at [http://www.
ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_politics_100014_02/07/2004 _44594], visited July 2,
74 New York City is among the five cities competing to host the 2012 Summer Games. The
other cities are London, Madrid, Moscow, and Paris.