2012 London Olympics: Officials Acknowledge Surprising Security Gaps
(LONDON) — With less than two weeks before the Olympic torch is lit in London, British officials are offering public assurances that despite high-profile media reports on potential cracks in the $2 billion Olympic security plan, the Olympics will be safe and security teams will “get the job done.”
British and American officials told ABC News beginning last week that it was becoming clear that G4S, a major security contractor hired to provide nearly 24,000 guards, students and volunteers, was falling short of its commitment. The British military has stepped in to fill the gaps and today Scotland Yard admitted their officers will be performing duties that were “not anticipated,” but the overall plan hasn’t changed.
“Working closely with LOCOG [the Olympic planning committee], G4S and the military, we are providing support to ensure the necessary levels of security are in place as venues move into lock down and the security regimes step up,” National Olympic Security Coordinator Chris Allison said in a statement to reporters. “We will continue to work closely with all our partners to get the job done.”
The statement also comes after Britain’s The Observer published a report quoting border officials as saying known terror suspects had slipped through airport security at London’s Heathrow international airport. Government officials told ABC News that report was not accurate, but said an independent auditor had claimed there are many new, hastily trained guards at the airport who sometimes do not question travelers as diligently as they should.
The security package for the 2012 Olympics is one of the largest, and most controversial, in the Games’ history.
By the latest count, in addition to the private contractor and local police, the British military plans to deploy as many as 20,000 total troops – a tenth of the country’s military – to provide security. The effort includes the use of surface-to-air missile batteries installed on the roofs of London apartment buildings and the docking of one of the Navy’s largest ships in the Thames River.
“The Games present an attractive target for our enemies and they will be at the center of the world’s attention in a month or so,” said MI-5 head Jonathan Evans in a rare public speech last month. “No doubt some terrorist networks have thought about whether they could pull off an attack.”
The London 2012 Athletes’ Village officially opened Monday. At its peak, the village is estimated to house 16,000 athletes and officials from around the world.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio