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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 August, 2004, 05:19 GMT 06:19 UK
Olympic 'security lapses' exposed
Olympic stadium during construction
There was a late rush to complete construction work before the Games
A British tabloid newspaper claims to have exposed serious security lapses in Athens during the build-up to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

The Sunday Mirror claims an undercover reporter was able to get a job at the main stadium without proper vetting.

The paper claims the reporter worked at the venue until the opening ceremony.

It says he planted three suspicious packages within the stadium which were not detected by security sweeps.

The paper says the parcels contained material for three mock bombs, including plasticine, batteries and wire.

The lockdown was shambolic
Bob Graham
Daily Mirror reporter
A "security lockdown" on 5 August failed to detect the packages, the paper says.

It also says their reporter was able to stand within 20 metres of Prime Minister Tony Blair and other dignitaries at the opening ceremony of the Games on Friday.

"The lockdown was shambolic," the reporter, identified as Bob Graham, said.

"The seals on our packages were left unbroken after the security checks were completed."

Mr Graham said he was able to get a job on the main Olympic site as a fork-lift driver working for a British contractor without proper security checks.

No references were asked for, the paper claims, and there was no formal interview.

Fake names

Troops during Olympic anti-terror drill
Around 1bn has been spent on security for the Games
Mr Graham said security was so lax he was even able to gain access to the site with names such as Michael Mouse and Robert bin Laden handwritten on his identification pass.

The Mirror says many other workers on the site told Mr Graham they had also not been thoroughly checked.

"Security is absolutely disgraceful. The Games are a terrorists' dream come true," Mr Graham said in a Mirror statement.

"Given assurances from the authorities and the resources available, it is a scandal on an Olympic scale."

Around 1 billion has been spent on security for the Athens Games, more than four times the amount spent four years ago in Sydney.

More than 70,000 police and special forces troops are guarding against terrorist attacks, along with submarines and surveillance planes.

I would recommend to Mr Graham to read fewer detective novels
George Voulgarakis
Greek Public Order Minister

But Greece's Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis reacted angrily to the claims, saying the article was a "profound insult to journalism and the principles of objective and responsible reporting".

"I would recommend to Mr Graham to read fewer detective novels," he said in a statement.

The Public Order Ministry said in a statement that all Olympic venues were completely safe.

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