AUSTRALIA will send a top spy squad to Athens for the duration of the Olympic Games to ensure athletes’ safety.
The crack team of intelligence specialists drawn from Australian Secret Intelligence Service, Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation and the Defence Department will work from the Australian embassy throughout the Games and will be responsible for developing links with Greek intelligence agencies.
The move complements a number of initiatives already outlined by the Government to protect athletes.
Australia already has a representative on the seven-nation security consultative group — along with the US, Britain, Spain, France, Germany and Israel — set up by the International Olympic Committee to meet monthly in Athens to share intelligence relating to the Games.
The 470-strong Australian team, the third or fourth largest at the Games, will include three security specialists to protect team athletes and officials.
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer confirmed yesterday that Australia had sent advance parties of officials to Athens to check security arrangements for the Games.
Two teams of up to six officials are believed to have been drawn from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Australian Federal Police and the Attorney-General’s Department.
Mr Downer said he believed the Athens Olympics would be an attractive target for terrorists.
“That’s why we’ve sent two teams of people, led by my department, to liaise with Greek authorities,” Mr Downer told the Nine Network’s Sunday program.
“We’re proposing to send four police to Athens in the lead-up to and for the duration of the Olympics so they can be liaison officers and work with the Greek authorities.
“We are taking security issues for the Olympics very seriously. Obviously, first and foremost, for our team and spectators but also to make sure we have significant input into the security arrangements there.
“It would obviously be a spectacular target and if there’s good security that should underwrite the security of the Olympic Games.”