Tuesday, March 12, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 106



Security measures an acute reminder

Ellen Simonson

South Korean soccer fields playing host to the World Cup during the month of June will be armed, a Korean Air Force spokesman said Monday. Military jets will patrol the skies over the stadiums, and two French-made, portable land-to-air missiles will be deployed outside them.

That's not all five members of the French special police force arrived in Seoul on Monday to spend five days in joint training, including hostage rescue operations,
with their South Korean counterparts.

South Korea has set up an anti-terrorism unit and imposed no-fly zones for non-military planes over the stadiums and the nation's nuclear power plants during the

All this is meant to prevent possible terrorist attacks during South Korea's portion of the World Cup, which will take place between May 31 and June 30.

The U.S. soccer team is scheduled to play its three first-round matches in South Korea. All these precautions may well bring relief to those scheduled to play at or
attend the tournament, but their presence is a sobering reminder of the state of the world since Sept. 11.

The Winter Olympics that just passed in Salt Lake City were heavily defended as well, as are our nation's largest cities, which are still under air patrol. The presence of
missiles outside sports stadiums should be a potent warning to any group considering an attack.

But they also carry a definite meaning for spectators and civilians faced with them, a reminder that the state of the world is precarious and disaster could strike at any
moment. While this is certainly true, such a blatant warning about what might happen is not in harmony with the purpose behind any major sports event, especially an
international one.

The World Cup, like the Olympics, is a celebration of goodwill between nations as well as of soccer. The security in Salt Lake City was extensive but not
overwhelming, and its effect was that of security, not fear. But it's a fine line, and one that is difficult not to cross.

These security measures have been deemed necessary by the nation of South Korea, and if they prevent the loss of innocent life, they are worth any side effects. But
it's too bad we suddenly live in a world in which the prevention of terrorism must outweigh the expression of goodwill.

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