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 Home > News & Policies > January 2002
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 10, 2002

Preparing for the World: Homeland Security and Winter Olympics

On February 8th, the Winter Olympics returns to the United States.  The world's greatest athletes will test themselves and one another in Salt Lake City, Utah.  It will also be a major test of our ability to protect those athletes and an estimated million-plus visitors.  And security for these Winter Games will be more thorough, more visible, better planned and better coordinated than any Olympics in history.  We will show the world we can safeguard the Olympic ideal without sacrificing our American ideals -- openness, mobility, diversity, and economic opportunity in the process.

About the Winter Olympics

Providing security for the Winter Olympics is a massive undertaking.  An average of 70,000-80,000 visitors are expected to arrive in Salt Lake City every day for 17 days.  The last Winter Olympics in America took place in the small town of Lake Placid, New York -- pop. 2,700.  By contrast, Salt Lake City is a bustling city of 800,000, and the Games will take place over 900 square miles.  Security in Lake Placid was served by about 1,000 federal, state and local personnel.  In Salt Lake City, that number will total more than 10,000.

More than $300 million in combined federal, state and local funds have been allocated for security for the Winter Olympics.  It will go towards making these Games as safe and secure as possible.

Taking the Lead On Security

The United States Secret Service, under the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is the lead agency for designing, planning and implementing security at the Salt Lake City Games.

-    They have had that role since August 1999, when the Olympics were named a National Special Security Event (NSSE), the first Olympics so designated.  Previously, the U.S. Secret Service performed the lead security role at the 2000 U.N. Millennium Summit in New York City and the 2001 Presidential Inaugural in Washington, D.C.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will also have major security roles.

-    The FBI is the lead agency for crisis management investigating and preventing terrorist threats and apprehending those responsible.  FEMA is the lead agency for consequence management -- coordinating the federal response to any unexpected incident that may adversely affect the health and safety of the public.

Security for the Games: A National Effort

Homeland security is a national, not a federal, effort.  Our first line of defense in an emergency -- the thousands of "first responders" on hand in Salt Lake City -- are locally based.  And the security effort for the Winter Games has been a true partnership, with unprecedented cooperation and coordination between federal, state and local agencies and officials.

-    Federal, state and local agencies are sharing intelligence with one another to ensure a high level of readiness during the Games.  

-    Dozens of state and local law enforcement agencies have taken part in security planning through the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command (UOPSC), contributing valuable resources and invaluable expertise.

-    During the Games, these agencies will continue to help coordinate security from the Olympic Coordination Center (OCC) in Salt Lake City, manned 24 hours a day.  

-    To provide a one-stop, single source for all public safety information, agencies will coordinate with the Joint Information Center (JIC), housed in the State Capitol Building.

-Assisted by Washington

Numerous federal agencies are assisting emergency preparedness, response and recovery.

-    The Department of Defense will provide 4,500 military servicemen and -women, including Reserves and the National Guard, to back local and federal agencies with logistics, communications, explosives detection, and aviation support.

-    The U.S. Customs Service will patrol the skies and provide airspace security.  

-    The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) will commit more than 200 Border Patrol Agents to assist in securing Olympic venues.

-    The U.S. Marshals Service will send more than 100 Deputy Marshals and specialized equipment to secure specific Olympic venues and to provide security for Public Health Service emergency medical teams in the case of a major medical crisis.

-    FEMA's National Emergency Response Team and several of their Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces will be in Utah to provide assistance.  

-    The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will assist the FBI in preventing, interdicting and investigating explosives and arson crimes.

-    The FBI will operate a mobile field laboratory to detect and analyze radioactivity and chemical- and bio-weapons materials.  

-    The Department of Energy will monitor the critical energy infrastructure in the Salt Lake City area, and will have nuclear response teams on alert.

-    The Environmental Protection Agency will provide support for state and local HazMat teams.

-    The Department of Health and Human Services will help the FBI coordinate our crisis response to any bio-terror threat.  The department will deploy 18 five-person medical strike teams, and a 36-person National Medical Response Team.

-    The Centers for Disease Control will have emergency response coordinators, lab scientists and other professionals on the ground.  

-    The Food and Drug Administration will be responsible for conducting food safety inspections inside the Olympic Village and at other venues.

-    The U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide logistical support and security at a number of venues; more than 100 Forest Service law enforcement officers will be on the slopes and mountain perimeters, providing security 24 hours a day.

-    The National Park Service will provide manpower and expertise at the outdoor venues, which will host events such as downhill and cross-country skiing and bobsledding.

-    The Department of Transportation will help ensure mobility in and around Salt Lake City, and will evacuate people out of the area in the event of a crisis.  DOT will also transport response teams and equipment as needed.

Prepared and Practiced

We are well-prepared for any contingency.

-    Security preparations have been underway since Salt Lake City was selected to host the Games by the International Olympic Committee in June 1995.

-    An Olympic Joint Terrorism Task Force has been established, capable of collecting and analyzing intelligence and investigating threats in virtually any jurisdiction and at every level.  

-    We have applied the lessons learned from the terrorist attacks at the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics and the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics.  

-    Following the attacks of 9-11, a thorough re-evaluation was performed to close any gaps that remain.  Air security was stepped up, entrance to venues made more stringent and some non-competition sites made more secure.

World-class athletes and teams know that preparation requires practice.  Our world-class security teams know this as well.

-    In November 2000, our state-of-the-art advanced interagency communications system was tested in a Command Post Exercise conducted by the FBI and the UOPSC.

-    In April 2001, a Field Training Exercise for 1,600 security personnel was conducted throughout the Olympic theater, complete with mock terrorist assaults, simulated hazardous materials incidents and crisis management drills.

Highly Visible = Highly Secure

Visitors to Salt Lake City have a right not only to be safe, but to feel safe.  Much of the security surrounding the Salt Lake City Games will be highly visible, helping to deter potential threats before they happen.  A sampling:

-    A 45-mile-radius restricted flying area over Salt Lake City and all Olympic venues will be in place from February 8th-24th.

-    Armed soldiers of the Utah National Guard will patrol airport terminals.

-    Salt Lake City International Airport will be able to screen all baggage for explosives -- one of the nation's first airports with that capability.

-    For the first time in a Winter Olympics, all visitors at all venues will be subject to metal detectors (nearly 1,000 of them).

-    Biometric scanners will be used to identify athletes and officials, allowing them to enter sensitive areas while keeping others out.

-    Strategically placed cameras will record visitors' movements.

-    Portable X-ray equipment will be used to inspect any mail that appears suspicious.

-    Vehicles will be prohibited from approaching the outdoor and indoor venues and other selected buildings beyond a 300-foot perimeter.

CONCLUSION

We can prepare for a safe Winter Olympics.  But we cannot make any promises.  As Utah Governor Mike Leavitt has correctly said, "Our efforts can only go to minimize, not eliminate, risk."

What we can promise is that America will be better prepared than ever before to detect an attack -- to deter it from happening -- and to protect the public in the extremely unlikely event that one should occur.

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