Top guards for elite visitors

created: 2008-08-06

They are proficient in hand-to-hand combat, firefighting, tactical maneuvers and first aid. They speak English and are familiar with international etiquette.

But their names and assigned tasks are kept confidential.
Posted at the Olympic village, they are members of a 31-strong special security team from Sichuan Province. Their mission: guarantee the safety of international dignitaries and VIP guests during the Beijing Olympics.

These men and women were carefully selected from more than 100 experienced security agents after rigorous and comprehensive training for the Beijing Olympics. The team will be on 24-hour alert throughout the Games.

The Sichuan team will work with two others, one from Beijing and the other from Kunming, Yunnan province.

With more than 80 world leaders and senior officials attending the opening ceremony on Friday, the Beijing Olympics is expected to have the biggest presence of international dignitaries in the Games' history.

It is estimated that more than 110 flights carrying VIP guests will arrive at Beijing Capital International Airport. It will peak tomorrow with more than 50 flights.

"It will certainly make our task difficult but we are well prepared," Yang Guoqing, deputy head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China in an interview with China Central Television, said.

Yang said effective arrangements and scheduling will ensure the safe arrival of these privileged Olympic guests.

Alternative aprons have been reserved for international VIP flights and the charter flights of Olympic family members if the main airport is forced to close due to adverse weather conditions, Yang said.

While Beijing is making final preparations for the grand opening on Friday, some heads of state are also busily preparing for the trip.

The US government plans to send a 600-member security team for President George W. Bush's visit, Kyodo News reported.

The US team will reportedly examine the Olympic venues 48 hours in advance of Bush's arrival. The team will work with security personnel provided by the Olympic organizers.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's bodyguards will wear bulletproof vests and carry briefcases containing submachine guns and stun grenades. These well-trained security agents are capable of warding off any attack against their president.

The bodyguards of Israeli President Shimon Peres are said to be from Shin Bet, the country's top security agency that has successfully thwarted a number of assassination attempts.