Traveler Editor's Tips for Last-Minute Dash to Olympics

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Other sources of anxiety include Greece's largely unguarded borders, and the fact that the thousands of constructions workers commissioned to build Olympic infrastructure in Athens never underwent background checks.

The intricate network of 1,577 security cameras should have been completed last month. But this project is still ongoing.

While 70,000 police and military officers, supplied by the U.S., six other nations, and NATO, will guard Athens on foot, by boat, and by plane, it was [recently] reported … that U.S. analysts still doubt that Athens's emergency response units could cope if a terrorist attack on par with the deadly Madrid bombings were to take place.

Have any events sold out?

Tickets to the swimming finals will be tough to get. But it's still possible to attend weight lifting, volleyball, soccer, [and] cycling events. Since only a third of the five million tickets up for grabs have sold, I predict that this summer's Games will be the least attended Olympics since Lake Placid, in 1980, which saw only 650,000 spectators.

How can travelers arrange their trips to the Olympics?

Only residents of specific European countries can order tickets directly through Olympics organizers. Residents of other countries must buy their tickets through their national broker.

U.S. residents can arrange travel through Cartan Tours or CoSport. Cartan offers a package from [U.S.] $4,898 per person, including round-trip airfare between New York and Athens, airport transfers, six nights in a hotel, and breakfast. Another option is Cartan's six-night cruise from [U.S.] $6,789, including round-trip airfare between New York and Athens, accommodations on the cruise ship, airport transfers, and meals.

Tickets to Olympic events must be purchased separately. CoSport's packages start at [U.S.] $3,957 per person, and include four nights in the three-star Achilles Hotel, tickets to four events of your choice, and breakfast. A six-night stay on the Queen Mary 2 starts at [U.S.] $12,040 per person, including airport transfers, all meals on the ship, tickets to the opening ceremony, and tickets to seven sporting events.

If I were going, I would get a backpack and book the cheapest flight I could find to a European city. From there, I would fly on a discount European airline to Athens. For lodging I would stay at a campground or homestay, or even rent a villa.

Are the Athens Olympic Games worth the trip despite the concerns?

I can't make that assessment for you. It really depends on how much you want to go and what your appetite for risk is. I've attended three Olympics, and there is no experience to match it. It's like a cultural and athletic Woodstock—an instant community where emotions ride high and friends are made instantly. But if it's the actual events you're interested in, I suggest you stay home. With instant reply and multiple camera angles, you'll see the action much better on TV.

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