NEWS

Olympic Security Costs May Top $1 Billion

By Joseph Straw

Security costs for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada, originally projected at less than $200 million, are expected to reach $1 billion, according to The New York Times:

About 20 percent of Canada’s entire policing capacity has descended on the Olympics. In all, 6,000 police officers, pulled from 118 police forces across the country, patrol the Olympic sites, in addition to the 1,327 members of the Vancouver Police Department who are responsible for the surrounding streets. Another 4,500 members of the Canadian armed forces are patrolling the mountains, air and sea while living in a dozen specially constructed camps.

The massive security effort is supported south of the border at an operations center in Bellingham, Washington, run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, where roughly 40 U.S. agencies are sharing intelligence and coordinating efforts with counterparts from Canada and other countries, according to the Times.

The only major security incident reported through Wednesday was an anti-capitalist protest in Vancouver that turned violent and resulted in two arrests. A suspected ringleader was charged with mischief, while one protester was charged with assaulting two journalists, according to The Vancouver Sun.

In another development, stiff security coupled with poor planning generated frustration for some Olympic sightseers and a public relations headache for organizers.

While at most games the Olympic flame burns high atop a stadium, Vancouver's sits closer to ground level, atop an ornate cauldron offset from public rights-of-way and separated from sightseeers by a high chain-link fence. The fence obstructed a clear line of sight to the flame and prevented spectators from snapping clear pictures. By Wednesday, however, organizers had moved the barrier 80 feet closer to the cauldron and cut a horizontal slit to allow photography, in addition to opening an observation deck on the roof of a nearby building, according to msnbc.com.

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