Utah governor promises Olympics will go forward

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Associated Press WriterSALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The governor of Utah promised that officials will work to ensure that terrorist attacks won't disrupt the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

Gov. Mike Leavitt said at a news conference Tuesday the Winter Olympics "will go forward as planned" on Feb. 8-24. He said organizers will do "all we humanly can to make sure the games are safe."

The attacks in New York and Washington raised concerns in Salt Lake City that terrorists could strike during the games.

"This is a sobering reminder that there are evil people in the world who will do outrageous things," Leavitt said.

At the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, 11 Israeli athletes were killed after being taken hostage by Palestinians. Since then, security has become a key part of preparations for all host cities.

At the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, employees were given the option of going home for the day.

"Out of respect for the loss of life that has been suffered and the emotional impact felt by our staff, SLOC has released our workers to be with their loved ones," said Mitt Romney, president of the organizers.

Romney also postponed an announcement of Olympic torchbearers, which had been scheduled for Wednesday in New York's Battery Park. The park is two blocks from the World Trade Center.

Utah Olympic Public Safety Command director Robert Flowers said the attacks will force Olympic security planners to re-evaluate their preparations but will not necessarily force changes.

He said the attacks are typical of the kind of disaster for which Olympic security planners have been preparing.

"This can happen," Flowers said.

Leavitt said state officials and Olympic planners have worked closely with federal authorities to prepare for the possibility of terrorism at the Olympics.

"We have a strategic plan in place and we will continue to strengthen it. Today's events only strengthens that resolve," Leavitt said.

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