American Hellenic Institute


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09-30-03 Letter to the Editor of The Washington Post

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   September 30, 2003

Letters to the Editor
The Washington Post
1150 15th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20071

Dear Editor,

In reference to your September 27, 2003 front page article "For Athens Olympics, a Security Gap" by Gregory L. Vistica, I would like to raise two points.

First, there is a certain degree of inconsistency between the title of the article and its content. The readers gain the most negative impression of the Athens Olympics by reading the sub-title, which mentions "Porous Defenses" and "Planning Breakdowns." The negative connotation of the title overshadows its positive references, including the quote by Larry Buendorf, chief of Security for the U.S Olympic Committee, who stated that he is confident that "Greece, working with others, will provide adequate safety."

Second, there is no evidence to cite Greece as a "haven for terrorists." The term implies a country that its government harbors and sponsors terrorism. Nothing can be further from the truth regarding Greece.

The organization of the Olympic Games, including its security, is an immensely difficult task. As the Atlanta and Munich Olympic Games cases have shown, even if the strictest measures are taken, there is always the possibility that something might go wrong.

The Greek authorities have cited security as their highest priority. As your article states, "Greece will likely spend $1 billion on security, nearly double the expenditures for the games in Sydney and Salt Lake City" and "Greece has hired as consultants the world’s leading terrorism and security experts."

As recently as Friday, September 26, 2003, the President of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogue stated: "I believe that everything that was humanely possible has been put in place…the Greek government has definitely made the best efforts that are possible in security. So, therefore, I’m confident."

There are always two ways to assess matters; either see the glass half-full or half-empty. In the case of Greece, it is evident that you chose to present the glass as half-empty.


Nick Larigakis
Executive Director