Originally created 05/05/04

Australia, Greece resolve dispute Olympic torch relay security



SYDNEY, Australia -- Australian and Greek authorities resolved a dispute Tuesday over security for the Olympic torch relay.

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The disagreement arose when Greece demanded to have its own security personnel accompany the flame on its trip around the world. Australia told Greek organizers that it is illegal for foreigners to work here as security guards.

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Sydney, site of the 2000 Olympics, is scheduled to be the first city outside Greece to receive the torch.

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"Sydney can now look forward to welcoming the flame back on June 4," New South Wales state Premier Bob Carr said.

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Carr said an international teleconference was held between government officials and representatives from the Athens Olympic Organizing Committee, the International Olympic Committee and the Australian Olympic Committee to come to a resolution.

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Under the compromise, New South Wales police will be responsible for security of the relay. But the Athens Olympic Organizing Committee be in charge of operational and logistical aspects of the event that will see more than 200 Australians run with the torch.

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Organizers in Athens downplayed the dispute.

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"It was never proposed or asked to have armed or unarmed Greek guards during the Olympic torch relay in Australia or in another place during the international route, given as ... the security is the responsibility of the local authorities," they said in a statement.

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Cathy Freeman, the 400-meter gold medalist at the Sydney Games, is scheduled to be the first runner on the Australian leg of the tour.

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