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The Globe and Mail

And you thought security at the airport was tight?

Security measures at Vancouver's 2010 Olympic sites will be as tight as restrictions at the airport terminal.

Sports fans will be stopped at the gate, required to pass through metal detectors and prohibited from taking little more than a sealed bottle of water into the competition venue.

"If you would not bring it on a plane with you, don't bring it into a venue," Constable Mandy Edwards, spokeswoman for the Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit, said in an interview.

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Bottled water is being allowed in as long as its manufacturers seal is intact, she added. Personal water bottles or any other liquid will be confiscated at the gate.

The security gates at the venues will be staffed by 5,000 people employed by a private security firm and brought in from across the country. Scanners and X-ray operators will be paid $16 an hour; their supervisors $20 an hour.

Constable Edwards declined to say anything about how anyone fared on their background checks. The security unit has done 110,000 background checks so far for the Olympics and expects to complete up to 130,000 by Games time. Police have said they check all suppliers, site workers, media and staff associated with the Games.

The Mounties remain in charge of security at the sites. Their responsibilities begin with the erection of fencing around the venue. Surveillance cameras are placed around the perimeter, pointing into the venues, not out at the street, Constable Edwards said. The fenced-in area is searched, with the help of police dogs, to ensure it is clear of potential problems. The RCMP then controls access around the clock until the competitions at the venue are completed.

Local police forces will be responsible for security outside the official Olympic venues. Vancouver police say they will be out in force on foot, on bikes, on horseback and in patrol cars.

Restrictions on airspace above the venues come into effect Jan. 29. The waterways next to the Richmond Oval, the athletes village, the media centre and cruise ships at Ballantyne Pier (where security personnel will stay during the Games) also will be closed to traffic within the next few weeks.

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