Could London Riots Derail 2012 Olympics?

It’s less than a year before London hosts the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, and there are concerns that the violence in London and surrounding areas could impact the Summer Games.

The unrest, which was sparked by a police shooting, began Saturday night in the Tottenham area of north London and spread close to the Olympic complex Monday.

More than 200 people have reportedly been arrested and police said at least 35 police officers were injured. Also two soccer matches were called off because police were needed to focus on the rioting.

Monday’s riots took place about four miles from the Olympic Park that includes the Olympic Stadium, venue for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, and the track and field competition, as well as the velodrome, aquatics centre, basketball arena, handball arena, and the main press and broadcast centre.

International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said, “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”.

Britain is preparing a massive security operation with a budget of at least $770 million focussing on the threat of international terrorism. About 12,000 police officers will be on duty each day.

The British Olympic Association (BOA) say the riots have not impacted preparations for the Games. Darryl Seibel, director of communications for the BOA, said, “no doubt it is not the type of advert we want to see with less than a year to go to the Games, but we need to keep in mind that security during an event like the Olympic Games rests primarily with local authorities. From the day London was awarded the Games security was a top priority for all the authorities and we have a lot of confidence in the plan that has been developed and ultimately will be implemented”.

A Locog spokeswoman said, “a lot of detailed work has already taken place on security plans for next year. We will be reviewing those with the Metropolitan Police and Home Office over the next year, but that was already planned”.

Meanwhile the test events for the Games are to go ahead. The beach volleyball tournament at Horse Guards Parade were to begin Tuesday, and Sunday’s London-Surrey Cycle Classic is also planned to go ahead.