LONDON,August 10,2011 -British Sports Minister Hugh Robertson has tried to reassure
the International Olympic Committee over London 2012 security after the
explosive rioting of the last three days which led to more than 500 arrests.
A budget of £6m has been envisaged with 12,000 officers set
for full-time duty throughout the Games which will be under way at this time
The unrest was watched at close hand by the chef de missions
of the 204 Olympic national associations who have just arrived in London for
briefings on Games logistics including security. Heading the IOC delegation
were Denis Oswald, head of the IOC Coordination Commission for London, and
Games executive director Gilbert Felli.
The rioting and looting began in Tottenham, north London, on
Saturday. Initial unrest was sparked by the shooting of a local man by police
in a firearms incident.
In due course the protests were hijacked by criminal mobs across
the capital and in other English cities including Birmingham, Bristol,
Nottingham, Wolverhampton and Manchester. They looted shops and torched
buildings, buses and cars, attacking emergency teamsand media crews.
Amid all of this Robertson was attending Tuesday’s beach
volleyball Olympic test event at Horse Guards Parade.
Incongruously, this was taking place only a few hundred
yards from Downing Street where Prime Minister David Cameron made a morning
media statement condemning the violence and announcing a recall of Parliament
“This is a deeply regrettable and unforgivable example of
low-level crime and disorder," said Robertson. “I will be reassuring the
Olympic representatives and telling them what I have always told the IOC which
is that we have a complex and detailed security plan for London 2012.
“It's modelled to meet every conceivable security outcome
and we review the plan the whole time.
“When we have detailed and considered information about what
caused the rioting we will, of course, look at the plan to see if any changes
need to be made. At the moment that is not something we anticipate because
public disorder is one of the scenarios we modelled the original plan
Robertson suggested that the damage to London’s image would
be only a short-term issue and that the Games themselves would prove “a great
competition” in a “jaw-dropping venue.”
Those reassurances were echoed by the IOC itself which said,
in a statement of its own: “Security at the Olympic Games is a top priority for
the IOC. It is, however, directly handled by the local authorities, as they
know best what is appropriate and proportionate. We are confident they will do
a good job in this domain.”
A similar message came from the British Olympic Association
which said: “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. Our focus is on preparing Team GB, and the events of
the past few days have not impacted our planning and preparation.”
Apart from the Beach Volleyball International, other
imminent test events include the badminton world championships at Wembley Arena
this week, a 10km marathon swimming international at Hyde Park on Saturday and
the Surrey Cycle Classic on Sunday.
The rioting affected other sports fixtures in the city as
well. The Football Association cancelled Wednesday’s friendly international
against Holland and Tuesday’s two League Cup ties at West Ham and Charlton were