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Security Inconveniences, But No Major Problems at Olympics


At the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy there have been no real security problems. But officials there say they remain on a high level of alert, and so far these Olympics have been virtually incident free.

Over 9,000 police officers have been brought into both the city of Turin and the mountain venues from all over Italy to oversee security for the Olympics games. The cost for the additional police is nearly $110 million. In addition, military and intelligence forces are working -- mostly behind the scenes.

So far, there have been few problems at the Winter Games, but Roberto Massucci, with the Olympics' National Information Center in Turin, says their forces remain at the ready. "We have not an alarm situation but the level of security is the most important one in Italy." Because of recent Islamic protests over controversial cartoons, increased security measures are in effect for athletes from Denmark.

The only incidents that occurred so far happened during the torch relay. These were Italian protesters from groups, such as the "No TAV" movement. This group is opposed to the development of a high-speed train line through nearby mountains, which they say are full of asbestos and uranium. "No TAV's" Doriana Tassotti says they have been banned from protesting near the Olympics, or even on the streets of Turin.

"We can't do anything. We tried to protest in Turin but of course they kept us away from the Olympic sites,” she said.

Mr. Massucci says strong public support for the Olympics and condemnation for the protesters did more to stop these demonstrations more than police restrictions.

"Police was (were) in an excellent way helped by the people. They really stopped all the possibilities to make something or to disturb the travel of the torch."

Some visitors to the games have been annoyed by the restrictions. Some Slovak fans are upset that they cannot get closer to the Olympic flame to take pictures. And Marty McCabe, from the U.S., does not like the long distances between ticketing booths and stadium entrances. "I mean it's a pain in the a--. You (have) got to walk a mile to get around here."

But Jami Huttunen, from Finland, is reassured by the security measures. "I'm happy because they check all the things and it's good."

For most here the inconveniences are a small price to pay for safety.