Terror threat to London Olympics
SECURITY has emerged as the greatest threat to London’s 2012 Olympics at a world press briefing held this week in the British capital.
About 300 Olympic media experts from 30 countries were briefed on London’s well advanced plans to bring the Games back to London for a third time.
London’s director of security Sir Ian Johnston said the terrorism threat would be severe, the second highest level, in the Olympic city.
Public transport is the acknowledged soft target with Sir Ian saying that finding the right balance between safety and freedom of movement was his greatest challenge.
A security budget of Stg600 million has been allocated to ensure no repeat of the 2005 London transport suicide bombings which brought the capital to a standstill the day after London beat Paris to win the right to host the Games. Those bombings, executed by four home grown terrorists, resulted in 52 deaths.
Australian Olympic Committee spokesman Mike Tancred said at the briefing that what happened in 2005 should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
Tancred’s greatest concern is for Australia’s team of 430-450 athletes moving around London on pubic transport after they have competed.
To help keep the Australian team safe the AOC has appointed its own security chief for London, former commando Greg Nance. Nance has a similar role on security planning for the Delhi Commonwealth Games being held in October in India.
Following briefings on its Stg11 billion infrastructure program and operational plans, Australian International Olympic Committee delegate Kevan Gosper said London was poised to deliver one of the greatest Olympics ever staged.
Gosper, who is also the chairman of the IOC press commission, said he felt the same sense of excitement he experienced in the lead up to the 2000 Sydney Games when he inspected London’s new 2.5 square kilometre Olympic Park in east London.
The park is part of a Stg9 billion infrastructure program and will be the epicenter of the Games, featuring a new main Olympic stadium, innovative wave roof Aquatic Centre, velodrome, basketball stadium and athletes village.
Aided by Australia’s sound pedigree in staging the envied 2000 Sydney Olympics, Australian companies have succeeded in securing $A250 million worth of contracts to help build the London Olympics.
Channel Nine and Foxtel have bought the rights to broadcast the Olympics in 2012 when Australia will judge whether or not London will succeed in matching Sydney’s Games success.
A worldwide TV audience of four billion and an on site population of over one million will ultimately judge for themselves whether London will trump Sydney in two years time.