What is to be done? For the IOC, the Greek government, the Bush Administration and the U.S. Olympic Committee which have all given the go-ahead for the Games, the dye is cast. All national Olympic Committees have a duty to be candid with their athletes and fans about the risks, but these organizations suffer from an inherent conflict of interest on participation at the Games. For athletes who may see the Athens Olympics as their chance of a lifetime, it is hard to give up that chance for what may prove a phantom danger. Many fans have already made a choice not to watch these Games in person to avoid any threat. The Greek police will be blamed if they fail to prevent an attack and blamed for inhibiting normal Games if no attack happens. They are vigorously searching for threats, including among the migrant Moslem population. One can only hope the Greek political authorities have given the police the maximum latitude and support in their thankless task, and also hope for something very important in police work - good luck. Realistically, however, despite the vast effort and expense by the defenders, the fate of the 2004 Olympic Summer Games remains at the mercy of Al Qaeda.
Wayne Merry is a former State Department and Pentagon official and now a Senior Associate at the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington.