July 14, 2005

Italy bans U.S. security guards from Winter Games

By Rachel Sanderson

ROME (Reuters) - Italy will not allow the United States or
any other country to bring its own security personnel to guard
athletes during next February's Winter Olympics, the government
official in charge of the Games said on Thursday.

"Italy is perfectly able to guarantee security," Mario
Pescante, Undersecretary and Extraordinary Commissioner for the
Turin Olympics, told a news conference.

"I exclude categorically that the U.S. team or any other
team will be able to bring people for their own security."

After the suicide bomb attacks on the London transport
system last Thursday Italy has said it could be the next in
line following threats from Islamic militant groups.

National teams were allowed to bring their own security
guards for last August's Summer Olympics in Athens.

Italian Justice Minister Roberto Castelli was quoted by
Corriere della Sera newspaper this week as saying the
government "already knew" Italy would be attacked when the
northern city of Turin plays host to the Games from February

"Everyone is concerned. Everyone in every corner of the
world is concerned the minute they step on to a bus...the
security measures are in place, but they will of course be
strengthened," Pescante said.


Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is a close ally of
President Bush and Italy has troops in Iraq.

Internet threats purported to be from Islamic militant
groups following the London attacks on July 7 said Italy would
be next if it failed to withdraw its troops from Iraq.

Valentino Castellani, chairman of the Turin Olympic
Organising Committee told Reuters Television the city was

"The most secure place in Italy in 2006 will be the Olympic
site because it is protected, visited before by the police.

"You have access only with accreditation, you have
inspections with X-rays," Castellani said in an interview at
Thursday's news conference.

Athens deployed Europe's largest peacetime security
operation in August 2004 when it held the first Summer Games
since the September 11 attacks in the United States. Defense
measures included NATO warplanes and Patriot missiles.

"We need to have a lot of serenity in dealing with the
Olympic Games. I remember the experience in Athens when a lot
of alarm was generated before, and then there was an
exceptional Games without any particular risk or event,"
Castellani said.

But when asked about measures to combat suicide bombers,
such as those who set off the London bombs which killed at
least 52 people, Castellani expressed the same confusion as
officials around Europe.

"How can you deal with a kamikaze? They can't come into the
Olympic site," he said, then added: "It would be very difficult
for them to enter."