16 August 1999

Bio terrorist threat

by Kate Melville

There was speculation that the Sydney 2000 Olympics could a target for terrorists using biological weapons. This issue was widely reported in the Australian media during the recent 11th International Congress of Virology held in Australia.

The specter of a biological terrorist attack is a nightmare scenario for Olympic organisers and security planners. Australia is a large island with a huge coastline that is very difficult to protect. Only yesterday 140 illegal Iraqi refugees were detained on Christmas Island just off the mainland and unfortunately this is just the latest episode in a series of embarrassing security incidents which have many Olympic officials seriously worried.

However, perhaps the risk is not so much from an external threat as an internal one. Sydney's recent water contamination crisis and a large oil spill on the harbour indicate that athletes and officials may have more to worry about from the locals than from the international spawn of Carlos the Jackal!