January 19, 2006

Italy ideally prepared for Turin Games security: expert

By Kate Holton

LONDON (Reuters) - Italy has done everything possible to
prevent a terrorist attack during the Turin Winter Games but
could still face small-scale protests and disruption, an
Olympic security adviser said on Thursday.

"Everything that can be done is being done," Peter Ryan,
security chief for the Sydney and Athens Olympics and an
adviser for Turin, told reporters at a conference in London.

"The venues are as secure as we can make them and a lot of
training has taken place to ensure the whole event goes off
smoothly in terms of its security response.

"Italy has worked extraordinarily hard to provide the
response it has." The Games run from February 10 to 26.

Italy's Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu warned in
December that terrorists could target the Games. Italy is a
close ally of the U.S. and has troops in Iraq.

Ryan said a threat to the safety of the Games could come
from smaller groups such as environmentalists who protested
recently over plans to build a high-speed railway linking Turin
to Lyon in France.

Tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated in December in
the Susa valley near Turin and at least two policeman were

"Those sorts of demonstrations can in fact disrupt an
event," Ryan said.

"It's down to the police to make sure that they allow the
demonstration to take place but that they marshal it ... in
such a way that it doesn't interfere with the running of the


Security has been under the spotlight at the Olympics since
the 1972 Summer Games in Munich when 11 Israeli athletes were
killed after being taken hostage by militant Palestinians.

One person also died in a bomb attack on an entertainment
venue in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Games.

Ryan said the challenge was to provide adequate security
without scaring spectators away.

"Security has to be very robust. It has to be very
thorough, well equipped and well staffed but it mustn't be in
such an overtly aggressive way that people are going to feel

Ryan, a former London police chief, said he was pleased
with the security planning for the 2012 Games in the British

"London does have a lot of the infrastructure in place
already," he said.

"It has an extraordinarily highly-trained and well-equipped
law enforcement and security set-up here and they're very well
versed and rehearsed in dealing with major incidents of all

Fifty-two people died in suicide bomb attacks on the
capital's transport network on July 7, 2005 and Ryan said the
response had been impressive.

"The resilience of London, the behavior of the people
during that emergency and the response thereafter in terms of
public awareness ... is very strong in this country.

"So I think London is very well positioned."