SJSU plans to protect Olympic team

April 11, 2008 1:05:29 AM PDT
The huge protests over the torch have San Jose State University making security plans Thursday. Hundreds of athletes on the U.S. Olympic Team will pass through there on their way to China this summer.

Olympic torch's journey across the world, has been anything but harmonious as its theme would otherwise imply.

Protesters have diligently followed the flame from nation to nation.

In three months, it won't be an Olympic torch that brings attention to San Jose State, it'll be the hundreds of Olympic athletes. The university is the final processing center for athletes heading to Beijing.

"We have paid close attention to what's going on what has happened in London, Athens, Paris, and now San Francisco," said Pat Lopes Harris from San Jose State University.

The Olympic Committee selected San Jose State as the processing center last summer and according to school officials, for two reasons. The campus's close proximity to different airports and because of the security they're able to provide.

"We have plans in place, will those plans change, sure, we'll keep track of the situation and make adjustments as needed," said Harris.

Details of the athlete's itineraries are not being released.

Simply put, they'll likely be on campus for 24 hours, stay in student housing if necessary, there'll be no media or public events and processing everyone will take about one month.

"You can't let protesters take over the event," said Larry Stone, a San Jose Sports Authority Board Member.

Still, the San Jose Sports Authority, which is hosting the athletes, is already making plans for demonstrators, just in case.

"We've got to make sure that people have the right and the venue to protest appropriately, not jeopardizing their safety of the protesters or the athletes," said Stone.

One option is creating a designated demonstration area.

"What makes you think they're going to listen? If I'm a protester would I do that? No!" said Nirmalya Bhoumick from Henley-Putnam University.

Nirmalya Bhoumick worked in federal intelligence. He thinks everything, including access to the athletes, needs to be limited.

"It might be worthwhile to have all of them secured in one facility and then give them special transportation," said Bhoumick.

As for protesters, he says, they need to be the focus of dozens of specially trained officers.


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