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Olympic Blog

Pique Newsmagazine editor Bob Barnett is on the ground and on the mountains with news and photos from Torino, Italy.


Safe and secure, so far

February 19 Despite the fact that Danish and American flags hang on the balconies outside Pique Newsmagazine’s European bureau in Bardonecchia, there has to date been no fear or hint that the bad guys in the global war on terrorism are anywhere nearby.

Indeed, the only connection between the Olympics and terrorism seen so far in these mountain towns is Steven Spielberg’s Munich, which is playing in several theatres.

Of course the large police presence, the check points for private vehicles on mountain roads and the ubiquitous mag & bag stations at every venue and athletes village may be enough to dampen the enthusiasm of any would-be terrorist.

Or it may be that the outdoor sports of the Winter Olympics are just not of much interest to people other than those who know the sports and the athletes. How much of a political statement would be made by attacking a bunch of cross-country skiers in the woods or a pair of men stacked on top of each other and lying on a sled rocketing down a luge track? And just what is that AWACS plane that is apparently flying overhead looking for, a missile aimed at Bode Miller?

An uneducated guess would be that German authorities will have far more stringent and complicated security matters to deal with when that country hosts the World Cup of soccer this summer.

Perhaps that is the beauty of having all the outdoor sports spread out over nine venues and five mountain towns: there is no one focal point for terrorists. However, there is also no focal point for spectators or people just interested in being part of the Olympics.

As for the police presence, there are a few carabinari at the train stations and walking the streets but they are armed with no more than a pistol; nothing to make you think the global war on terrorism has escalated.

It’s at the venues themselves that security is tightest, although “tight” seems to be one of those words whose meaning is subject to various regional interpretations in Italy. At one athletes village a Whistlerite managed to wangle his way in despite having no accreditation. At another, a Whistlerite was told he couldn’t even photograph the buildings.

Speaking of athletes villages

If memory serves, one of the reasons the Cheakamus location was chosen for the Whistler athletes village was it was going to be easier to provide security to an isolated compound than it would be to an area like Rainbow, which is right next to Alpine Meadows.