LONDON: British officials vowed to review security plans for the 2012 London Olympics on Tuesday as a third day of rioting forced the cancellation of England’s football match against the Netherlands. Widespread unrest across the British capital, and the apparent inability of police to deal swiftly with multiple outbreaks of violence, have prompted questions over security plans for next summer’s sports extravaganza.
British Home Secretary Theresa May said officials would “look at what is necessary” to ensure a trouble-free Olympics, where police will be aiming to provide security for some 10,500. “We take the issues around the Olympics very seriously,” May told BBC radio. “An awful lot of work has already gone into planning in relation to the security and public order in relation to the Olympics and we will continue to monitor that and continue to look at what is necessary and what we need.”
A London 2012 spokeswoman added: “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.” The violence came as around 200 senior Olympic officials were in London for three days of meetings to address issues including transport and accommodation for athletes.
A spokesman for the International Olympic Committee said the organisation was confident London could deliver a secure games. “Security at the Olympic Games is a top priority for the IOC,” he said. “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.”
The British sporting world reacted with disgust to the scenes of carnage in London, which has spread to several cities across Britain. “In less than one year we welcome the world to London and right now the world doesn’t want to come,” British distance runner Paula Radcliffe tweeted. British Olympic officials meanwhile expressed confidence that London would be able to host a trouble-free games. “This is not a reflection of London, this is a reflection of the world we live in today.” The comments came as football chiefs confirmed England’s friendly against the Netherlands at Wembley scheduled for Wednesday night had been cancelled amid fears for fan and player safety.
“We have received clear advice that due to the sporadic and widespread nature of the unrest there are significant concerns in relation to the available emergency service resource to safely police the fixture,” an FA statement said. “In light of these concerns … the authorities have advised us that under the terms of our safety certificate we are unable to host the fixture, or guarantee the safety of visiting supporters or the teams.” The unprecedented decision followed the earlier postponement of League Cup matches involving West Ham, Charlton and Crystal Palace after police advice.
England star Rio Ferdinand responded to the announcement on micro-blogging site Twitter. “England vs Holland game is off, good call. Who wants to see a game of football when our country is in turmoil,” Ferdinand wrote. Authorities in Birmingham, another city marred by violence on Monday, meanwhile said England’s cricket match against India was set to get under way as planned on Wednesday. “Everything is as normal at this stage.
We will continue on that basis unless we are told anything different,” a spokesman for the England and Wales Cricket Board said during practice at Edgbaston. England captain Andrew Strauss said his team’s preparations had been unaffected by the violence. “When you watch these scenes on the television, it’s horrific and it’s far from England’s proudest moment. But we fully intend to play the game as we would any other game,” Strauss said. – Dailytimes