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Lausanne, Switzerland (AP by Stephen Wilson)–International Olympic officials asked their lawyers Monday to study the IOC’s liability if a terrorist should strike in Salt Lake City.
“We are examining under what circumstances could the IOC be responsible if something happens, what are the measures we have to take to avoid risks,” International Olympic Committee board member Marc Hodler said.
Hodler is also head of the IOC panel that oversees the Feb. 8-24 Salt Lake Winter Olympics. He is scheduled to travel to Salt Lake in late October to inspect preparations.
“First of all, we have to know where the risks come from, how (the terrorists) are organized, what could be the nature of the risks and what measures can be taken against the risks,” Hodler said. “That’s a very complex problem. Nobody even thought of using civil planes as bombs. They may have other things in mind.”
The IOC’s ruling executive board opens a three-day meeting Tuesday- a regularly scheduled session that is taking on greater importance since the terror attacks in New York and Washington.
Instead of routine business, the meeting will focus on keeping the Salt Lake games safe from terrorists.
IOC and Salt Lake officials have stressed the games will go ahead as scheduled, but said all aspects of security must now be re-examined.
“We will reassess and re-evaluate everything,” IOC president Jacques Rogge said. “When it comes to security, everything has changed since Tuesday.”
Rogge said security has been the IOC’s top priority since a terrorist attack at the 1972 Munich Games claimed the lives of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches. In addition, one person was killed and more than 100 injured when a pipe bomb exploded in Centennial Park during the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Salt Lake Organizing Committee chief Mitt Romney was in Washington lobbying Congress for additional security funding when the terrorists struck.
Since the attack, federal lawmakers swiftly bolstered the $200 million Salt Lake security plan. A $40 billion package approved Thursday by the Senate includes another $12.7 million for the Olympics.
Romney will present details of revised security plans when he reports to the IOC board by video conference on Wednesday.
“There are myriad targets in civilizations worldwide,” Romney told his Salt Lake staff. “We surely recognize that the Olympics have been targeted in the past, at Munich and Atlanta, and we have long recognized the need to have the Olympics entirely secure.”
Utah officials said the games may have a more militarized look, with armed soldiers possibly helping patrol streets as Air Force jets guard the skies.
But Romney said the beefed up security shouldn’t be excessive.
“I don’t think this place is going to be an armed camp,” he said.
The IOC may also review security plans for the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Security already had been a major concern because of the activities of the domestic terror group November 17, which has killed 22 people since 1975 and never had one of its members arrested.
It’s the first full executive board meeting chaired by Rogge, who was elected in Moscow on July 16 to succeed Juan Antonio Samaranch as president.