Olympic Games: Port security to be stepped up

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The Independent Online

Greece's top commando units will guard cruise ships serving as floating hotels during the Olympics, seeking to transform the port near Athens into an "impregnable fortress", security officials said yesterday.

Greece's top commando units will guard cruise ships serving as floating hotels during the Olympics, seeking to transform the port near Athens into an "impregnable fortress", security officials said yesterday.

The concentration of forces planned for the port of Piraeus reflects the concern that the luxury liners could present targets for possible terrorist plots during the Games, which run from 13 to 29 August.

The vessels and other special yachts will hold some of the most high-profile guests, including some heads of state. Security experts around the world have shifted attention and resources to ports and shipping lanes, fearing al Qaida's next attack could come by sea.

On Monday, the final pre-Olympic security drill will focus on port security, in both the busy commercial section and the docks in Piraeus, about 10 kilometres south of central Athens.

During the Olympics, the port will be encircled by almost wartime measures, including thousands of special forces troops, barbed wire fences fitted with motion sensors, surveillance cameras, X-ray machines and detectors for radiological, chemical and biological material. Gunboats and helicopters will be on constant patrol.

Meanwhile, North and South Korea will march together at the Games' opening ceremony in Athens next month.

"It shows that sport can unite and promote peace," Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, said. "It is wonderful to see the two national Olympic committees putting the Olympic values into practice in such a demonstrable way."

The two Koreas said in February that they wanted to march under the same flag, as they did in Sydney in 2000. The two teams will enter behind a flag depicting the entire Korean Peninsula. They hope to field a unified team for the 2008 Games in Beijing, China.

"This joint march will be one of the highlights of the opening ceremony," Rogge said.

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