TEXT of ATHOC president's speech to Oly Security conference - 24May04-

LONDON, May 24 - Text of Athens Organising Committeepresident Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki’s speech to theOlympic security meeting in Athens:
``We have transformed our transportation network.
We have upgraded our power and communications networksand trained 100,000 Greeks in management, technology andother Games-related skills.
We have hosted 39 test events, and we are preparing amagical Games, with the best athletes in the world atthe centre of our plans and dreams.
I repeat: 39 test events, in conditions of completesecurity and safety for the athletes, spectators andofficials.
And most important, we have become a more secure city.
We have put in place the training, people andtechnology needed to protect Athens this summer and formany years to come.
The Greek government has developed a budget and apersonnel plan for protecting the Games that is withoutprecedent in Olympic history.
Security is our number one priority and, as a resultof these actions, Athens will be ready to welcome theworld to our historic Olympic Homecoming.
This meeting is an important opportunity to directlyaddress the legitimate concerns we all share; I believethat when you see and learn about the extraordinarysecurity preparations being made in Athens, you willunderstand how serious we are.
Actions and deeds are what matters most; our securityarrangements are second to none in the history of theOlympics.
But words and messages in the security arena play animportant part of building confidence, as well.
So I hope, after your time in Athens, you will bepersuaded by our work to carry a positive and persuasivemessage back to the nations and organisations yourepresent.
As I read the global press, I am concerned.
One Olympian has talked about this Games `puttingathletes in harm’s way’.
Recently, one of our Olympic Advisory Group partners,Australia, chose the middle of an overwhelminglysuccessful IOC Coordination Commission meeting, torelease a warning regarding travel to Greece.
This has led me to believe that we are not getting ourmessage across as effectively as we should.
And I worry that harm is being done to the OlympicGames.
These are my concerns:
First, we want our athletes to have only one concernthis summer: delivering an Olympian performance as theworld looks on.
Unnecessarily raising their anxiety levels withuninformed comments can only distract young men andwomen who may never again have an opportunity to competein an Olympic Games.
Again, we do not minimise the challenge, but we shouldnot exaggerate either.
Let’s assure the athletes of our vigilance.
No organising committee and no host government haveever put greater emphasis on safety and security - inthe Olympic Village, in the venues where athletes willcompete and the city where our visitors will enjoy thehistory and hospitality of Athens.
Second, I am concerned that we send a consistentmessage to those who wish us ill.
Telling them, incorrectly, that there are holes inAthens’ security procedures, and that our preparationscan be circumvented, when all of our preparations aredesigned to achieve the opposite, is bad securitystrategy.
Finally, I am concerned that old stereotypes, whichsome seem eager to hold on to, be abandoned in the faceof a changing Greece.
Our pride is one of our most treasured and importanttraditions and our stake in the security of our owncitizens, now and after the Games have ended, are on theline.
Suggestions that we do not take our securitypreparations seriously are wrong.
Our preparations are rooted in a simple fact of lifetoday: we all live in a more dangerous world than we dida few years ago.
That is why, this summer, no nation will be doing morethan Greece to protect those within its borders.
We understand the security concerns of a post-9/11world; we feel them perhaps more strongly than any othernation right now.
That is why we are eager to work with you to resolvethem, and to speak with and hear from you at gatheringslike this.
Working together, we can set the stage for a gloriouscelebration, good for the athletes, good for the Games,safe and secure for all who take part.
That is the promise we have made; it is a promise weare working day and night, to keep.
Thank you for coming.
We look forward to welcoming you back in August, forthe Olympic Games.’’