Officials in Salt Lake City say the Winter Olympics are going well, despite long lines at the venues and a shortage of hot dogs. Officials also credit the games for a drop in the crime rate.
Utah Governor Mike Leavitt says security has been a priority since Salt Lake City was awarded the games seven years ago, and security was intensified after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. "We had a plan in place that was put together by the best in the world prior to September 11th," he said. "The plan after that time was strengthened. It was not intended that the plan simply would be to prevent terrorism. It was defined to create a safe environment for the games to go forward."
The official says one result of the security is a remarkably low crime rate.
15,000 police, national guardsmen and other security personnel are on duty in Salt Lake City. People at every venue must pass through magnetometers for a weapons check. That has caused some slowdowns, and spectators are told to allow several extra hours in transit to the venues. "We've been working to find the balance on the magnetometers as to how to assure safety but at the same time keep people moving," said Governor Leavitt.
One columnist from the Denver Post newspaper has angered people in Salt Lake City with some pointed comments. In a widely quoted column, he complained about everything from the food to transportation to the Mormon faith, which is dominant here in Utah. The writer apologized after Utah residents flooded his paper with complaints. And the Utah governor says most of the media coverage has been positive. "We re the focus of the world for this 17 day period," he said. "To have 3.5 billion people focus on our state is welcome. We knew when we invited the world to come here, and when 1,200 members of the media came, that the world would see us as we are. And we're comfortable with that, and our preparation, and feeling quite optimistic about the way the games are going so far."
One problem has arisen for those who enjoy an American sporting tradition, the hot dog. Officials say the 580,000 hot dogs that were ordered for games have been sold already, so rules prohibiting people from bringing food to Olympic venues have been loosened.