Sydney takes a close look
at Atlanta Games security
July 28, 1996
Web posted at: 1:00 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT)
SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- At the Sydney Olympic pool Sunday,
it was swimming as usual as hopeful young Aussies swam and
dreamed their way towards 2000.
But in Atlanta, Sydney Olympic officials were preoccupied
with the Saturday morning bombing of Centennial Olympic Park.
"Nobody can absolutely guarantee the safety of all people
under every possible condition," said Michael Knight, New
South Wales's Olympic Minister. "No one can guard against
every lunatic that may be out there."
Officials in Barcelona were well aware of that in 1992. Like
Atlanta, Barcelona's games featured an open space without the
extensive security measures in place at sporting venues.
But nothing like Saturday's bombing happened in Magic
Fountain Plaza at the foot of Olympic Hill, where thousands
gathered daily, just as they did at Centennial Olympic Park
before the bomb explosion. But unlike Atlanta, Barcelona drew
no terrorist attacks.
"It was not just luck," said Manel Castellvi, a spokesman for
the Catalan Police. "We say in the security business you have
to plan everything and then you have to have luck."
In a nation long accustomed to Basque separatists bombings,
officials in Barcelona did not want to squeeze the life out
of the city to achieve security. Spanish officials worked
hard to create an aura of safety in the Plaza, relying on a
large contingent of heavily trained officers, both uniformed
"Of course, nobody can defend itself over an attack totally,"
conceded Barcelona's deputy mayor, Joan Clos. (179K AIFF or WAV sound)
Atlanta Olympic officials learned that first-hand Saturday
morning, and Sydney officials took note.
"It has raised the issue of security outside of venues and we
will certainly look at that," said Mal Hemmerling, chief
executive of the Sydney Organizing Committee for the Olympic
Games. (179K AIFF or WAV sound)
Sydney is not immune to terrorist attacks. In 1978, a bomb
planted outside a meeting of dozens of heads of state killed
a policeman and two sanitation workers.
Another breach of high-tech security happened in the
Australian capital two and a half years ago when a man ran at
Prince Charles with a starting pistol.
Sydney's residents are well aware of the security risks.
"I think everybody who says it can't happen here has their
head in the sand," said one. "It can happen here." (230K AIFF or WAV sound)
Australia hosted a summer Olympics in 1956. But the Australia
of the Melbourne Games was a safer, more innocent place .
In four years, Sydney will tackle a security challenge the
likes of which the city and the country have never before
faced. Despite what will no doubt be massive preparations and
planing, just how effectively that challenge will be met
cannot be predicted.
"In the end the New South Wales government will do whatever
is necessary to make Sydney as safe a place as it can
possibly be for the benefit of Australians generally and for
our residents," said Knight.
CNN Correspondents John Raedler and Al Goodman contributed to
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