Norway Efficient But Nervous As Olympics Approach
LILLEHAMMER, Norway (AP) _ There’s plenty of snow, the venues are ready and the buzz of excitement is everywhere.
With one month to go before the start of the Winter Olympics, Lillehammer is set for the Games to begin.
On Feb. 12, a Norwegian ski jumper with the Olympic torch in his hand will soar off the jump in the hills above town to mark the opening of the biggest Winter Games ever.
Lillehammer organizers are working feverishly to make sure everything is in place.
″We’re all doing 100 miles per hour,″ said Lillehammer Olympic Organizing Committee spokesman Rolf Nereng. ″It’s all arms and legs around here.″
He may be exaggerating. The International Olympic Committee has proclaimed Lillehammer ″the best-prepared Olympics Games organizer of recent times.″
The Norwegians have built a huge skating hall, which looks like a giant Viking ship overturned on the shores of Mjosa, the country’s largest lake.
They’ve hollowed out a mountain to build a hockey rink inside and built a bobsled track that - in keeping with the environmental profile of the Games - can barely be seen in the forest north of town.
At least one worry, perhaps the biggest after a series of warm and dry winters, appears to have been eliminated. The days have been crisp and, best of all, snowy.
But there are some things - other than the weather - that worry the orderly, efficient Norwegians.
Despite a beefed-up rail and road network, the transportation system will be straining to bring up to 100,000 people a day into the isolated and compact Olympic region centered on Lillehammer, 110 miles north of Oslo.
The same snow that makes Lillehammer a dream for winter sports can turn the roads into a nightmare of ice and drifts.
The computer system used for results and information may be vulnerable. Newspapers said so-called computer hackers are suspected of having broken into the system, although Nereng of LOOC said he assumed the system is secure.
Norway also fears protests against its commercial whale hunts and terrorism by those angered that Norway brokered the historic peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians.