The Olympic Games are approaching and the people of Great Britain are feeling excitement and panic in equal measure. The government, however, have experienced a bit more churning and fewer butterflies as we stand, a fortnight away…
Yesterday it was announced that one of the country’s busiest motorways, the M4 route which runs through the capital and is somewhat of a London Olympics supply line, is closed. It was due to reopen today, but the motorway, which runs past Heathrow International Airport in the west of London, is at a “critical stage” and will be held up.
The route is already going through huge changes. As an official link between the Olympic Park and Heathrow the road has been divided up to accommodate the games, with officials, athletes and sponsors being provided with a lane apart.
With athletes arriving on Monday, as the Olympic village officially opens, there is a race to get things right.
At the moment there is also an issue as major telephone network provider 02 is experiencing difficulties with its service. This may be resolved shortly, but logistically it may still affect the Games.
However, one of the greatest issue facing the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), and indeed the International Olympic Committee (IOC), is that of security.
A private security firm, G4S, was tasked with providing security for the event, but in December it was admitted by LOCOG officials that they had miscalculated. With London and outlying venues for the Games totaling 34, the committee grossly underestimated the number of security staff required.
G4s is formally contracted to provide 13,700 guards and security experts, but concerns have arisen about the company’s ability to provide that number. Whitehall politicians, led by home secretary Theresa May, have tried to pry assurances out of G4S.
It appears that the response, if there was one, was unsatisfactory. Over the weekend plans were laid, and today it was revealed that some 3,400 troops may be deployed to assuage fears and to provide necessary cover for civilians.
This may be comforting; this may shake some. What is evident is that Great Britain and their IOC associates take matters of security seriously, or are at least present such a front.
Throughout the London Olympics, HMS Ocean, the British Navy’s biggest warship, will be moored in the Thames. Fighter jets and helicopters will be on standby, nearby. After residents’ legal challenges were dropped, missiles will be officially stationed atop the Lexington building in Bow, London, so as to counteract any terrorist threat.
What is more, the Ministry of Defense have delivered assurances that they, unlike the M4, can guarantee that the missiles, personnel and plans can be in place by Monday, should they be required.