The effect of the London riots on 2012 Olympics

The effect of the London riots on 2012 Olympics
August 9, 2011, 1:53 pm

From Comcast SportsNet Tuesday, August 9, 2011
LONDON (AP) -- Despite three days of rioting and looting in London, Olympic organizers were going ahead with a series of events to prepare for the 2012 Games. A women's beach volleyball tournament began as scheduled at Horse Guards Parade, with players in bikinis competing on a specially made sand court a short distance from Prime Minister David Cameron's 10 Downing Street residence. The competition, which runs through Sunday, is a test event for the Olympic tournament that will be played at the same venue next summer. A wave of violence and looting has raged across London, as authorities struggled to contain the country's worst unrest since race riots set the capital ablaze in the 1980s. More than 400 arrests have been made so far. The volleyball court was bathed in bright sunshine for the start of the 24-team tournament. The stands, which will be boosted from their current 1,500 capacity to 15,000 for the Olympics, were about half full for the opening three matches. "You'll have incidents anywhere you are in the world," U.S. player Brittany Hochevar said after a win over a Chinese team. "It doesn't matter. If you're in a big city, this could happen anywhere in the world, so this doesn't change my perception of London for 2012 or give me concern for the Olympics. That's the world." Other scheduled test events this week include a marathon swimming competition at Hyde Park on Saturday and a cycling road race that will go through the streets of London on Sunday. "A lot of detailed work has taken place regarding security plans for the games and we will continue to review them together with the Met Police and the Home Office over the coming year," LOCOG, the local organizing committee, said in a statement. British Olympic Association spokesman Darryl Seibel expressed confidence the games would go safely. "It makes an Olympic Games and a Paralympic Games all the more important," he said on Sky TV. "We need a reason to come together. What better city to do it in than London. This is not a reflection of London, this is a reflection of the world we live in today." Hundreds of Olympic delegates from around the world were gathering Tuesday at a luxury hotel in Park Lane, near Hyde Park, to check on logistical preparations for the games. The chefs de mission, or team leaders, from more than 200 national Olympic committees were scheduled to tour the venues on Wednesday. "We know that security has been a top priority in the planning and preparation for London 2012, and we have full confidence in the work being done to prepare for the games," Seibel said in a statement. Across town, in the Canary Wharf business district, top International Olympic Committee officials huddled with LOCOG leaders for a regularly scheduled "project review" of preparations for the games. LOCOG chairman Sebastian Coe and his team were meeting with a delegation led by Denis Oswald, the IOC executive board member who heads the coordination commission for the games. The IOC reiterated its confidence in security planning for London. "Security at the Olympic Games is a top priority for the IOC," spokesman Mark Adams told the AP. "While we are not responsible for security, we're happy with how local organizers are dealing with the issue and we are confident they will do a good job." Groups of young people rampaged for a third straight night, setting buildings, vehicles and garbage dumps alight, looting stores and pelting police officers with bottles and fireworks into early Tuesday. The unrest started Saturday night in the Tottenham area of north London following the fatal shooting of a local man by police. It spread closer to the Olympic complex Monday when scattered violence broke out in the Hackney area of east London. Hackney is one of the five boroughs encompassing the Olympic Park, a square-mile site that will be the centerpiece of the games. Monday's violence took place about 4 miles from the park. The unrest, which has affected some of the boroughs encompassing the Olympic Park, comes less than two weeks after London celebrated with great fanfare the one-year countdown to the opening of the games on July 27, 2012. Cameron cut short his summer vacation in Italy and returned to London to deal with the crisis. He recalled Parliament from its summer recess and said 16,000 officers would be on the streets of the capital Tuesday night -- almost tripling the number on the streets Monday night. Britain was already preparing a massive security operation for the Olympics, but most of the attention has been on the threat of international terrorism. About 12,000 police officers will be on duty each day of the games, which have a security budget of at least 770 million. A day after London was awarded the games in 2005, suicide bombers attacked London's transport network, killing 52 people. The British government is planning for the national terror threat to be "severe" during the Olympics, meaning an attempted attack is highly likely. "It's not a great thing to be happening to London, but most of us can see past that to what a great city London really is and all the preparation going into this great event," said Heather Bansley, a Canadian beach volleyball player. "It shows how ready they are for the games."