A sensor-laden blimp made a patrol over Olympic venues and sensitive areas in Athens yesterday as Greek authorities carried out final tests for safeguarding the Aug. 13-29 Olympic Games.
The 200-foot blimp, mounted with dome-shaped sensors, including chemical "sniffers" and ultra-high-resolution cameras, flew over Athens for more than three hours. During the Games, the airship is expected to float over the capital for more than 15 hours daily, joining a network of surveillance vans and nine police helicopters.
_____ Countdown to Athens _____ • The Olympics are less than a week away and organizers are pulling the pieces together for the Aug. 13 opening.
_____ From The Post _____ • Dana Vollmer will be one of those tales of courage that come up during the Olympics.
• Michael Wilbon: In Athens, the new can't hold a torch to the ancient.
• Lauryn Williams is far more interested in chasing goals she can see rather than those she can imagine.
• Notebook: Jerome Young reportedly tested positive for the banned drug EPO at a meet last month.
_____ Live Online _____ • Tony Azevedo, the top scorer on the U.S. Men's Water Polo team, took questions July 28.
• Alexander Kitroeff discussed his book, "Wrestling with the Ancients: Modern Greek Identity and the Olympics," and the history of the Games on July 27.
_____ On Our Site _____ • Photos: Swimming trials.
• Photos: Track and field trials.
_____ Swimming's Wonder Boy _____ • Phelps's main training partners and buddies reflect on blown chances. (July 27)
• Coach Bob Bowman has been the guiding force for Phelps. (July 4)
• Gallery: Coach shows the way to Athens.
• Numerous endorsements already have made Phelps a millionaire. (June 1)
• Gallery: The road to the Games are paved with gold.
• Phelps expected to be the Games' most-decorated athlete. (April 18)
• Gallery: Phelps making a splash.
The blimp is part of an electronic web of more than 1,000 cameras, sensors and other devices tied together over a secure communications network to a command center. The system cost $312 million and took up a considerable portion of Athens's record security budget of more than $1.5 billion.
Today, Greek authorities will test part of the network -- including its system of cameras and communications -- during a three-hour Olympic security transportation drill. The drill involves public transit and the operation of special Olympic traffic lanes to be used by accredited vehicles, including buses carrying athletes.
Greek Baseball Team Will Get Home
The Greek Olympic baseball team has sufficient financial backing to go to Greece after working out next month in the United States, an official from the Baltimore Orioles said.
On Friday, the president of the Greek Baseball Federation declared that the team is so short of cash that it has no funds to return for the Games.
"At this moment we do not have money to pay for the tickets for our team to come to participate in the Olympic Games," Panos Mitsiopoulos told the Associated Press.
That is not the case, according to Orioles spokesman Bill Stetka.
"We were surprised to hear that," Stetka said. "It's a nonissue. The flights have been arranged, and the cost already covered, through a cooperative effort by the Orioles, Major League Baseball, the Greek Federation and the family of Peter Angelos."
Peter Angelos, a Greek American who owns the Orioles, helped organize the Greek Olympic team.
Stetka said the team will begin practicing in the Baltimore area on Aug. 2 and will stay through Aug. 4 before heading home to Greece.
Mitsiopoulos claims the federation only received about a third of the promised $372,000 for Olympics preparations. He added that other Greek sports federations are also short on funds.
"This is happening with all the teams. All the federations are complaining," Mitsiopoulos said.