Rogge Praises London’s ‘flexibility’ On SecurityJuly 16th, 2012 10:58 am Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — IOC President Jacques Rogge praised British organizers Monday for acting quickly to bring in thousands of extra troops to guard the London Olympics and said the heavy security presence at the games will “definitely not spoil the fun.”
With the opening ceremony 11 days away, Rogge said organizers displayed “a good show of flexibility” to deal with the failure by private security firm G4S to recruit enough personnel to protect venues — a major embarrassment for the host country.
The blunder has forced the British government to deploy an extra 3,500 troops — above the 7,500 already assigned to guard venues and sensitive sites.
“There will be an extra input of soldiers and this is something that gives us tranquility,” Rogge said in a conference call. “The soldiers will compensate for the security people that will not be provided by G4S.”
The massive Olympic security operation also includes RAF combat jets, surface-to-air missiles on rooftops and an aircraft carrier on the River Thames.
Despite the heavy measures, Rogge said the games will not be overwhelmed by security, which has been the IOC’s No. 1 priority ever since the terrorist attack that killed 11 Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Munich Games.
“They will not be running around with machine guns,” Rogge said. “They will be ready to intervene and this has been the policy in all Olympic Games since Munich ’72. There has always been security in place but not too visible, not obtrusive, and this will not spoil the fun.”
Rogge said the IOC had been kept informed of the British security problems and received government assurances that all measures were being put in place.
“We are now in the process of fixing the issue that came up,” he said. “We still have about 10 days to go and we absolutely feel secure in terms of the transfer of soldiers for the missing people from G4S.”
Rogge said it was not uncommon for host cities to face unexpected problems in the final stage of preparations.
“The issues that came up here has been handled well,” he said. “What counts is the flexibility of the organizing committee and the government when something comes up and I think they have been very flexible and very adaptive.”
Another concern has been the weather. London has experienced relentless rain for much of the summer, and the conditions were again damp and gloomy on Monday for the arrival of athletes and opening of the village.
“I definitely would prefer games with sunshine than rain,” Rogge said. “There is nothing fundamental that the rain can create.”
However, he cited possible challenges for the Olympic tennis at Wimbledon and track and field at the Olympic Stadium. Wimbledon has a retractable roof on Centre Court, but many matches will be scheduled on other uncovered courts.
“That might need some rescheduling but you know that Wimbledon has great experience in that,” Rogge said. “It might influence a little bit if it is cool and humid the sprint competitions in track and field. Nothing fundamental. Athletes are adaptive and they can cope with all conditions.”
Overall, Rogge said he was looking forward to a successful games in London.
“I think it is going to be a very good games and I think the spirit of the games will wipe away all question marks and as soon as the games begin, as usual, will have a very positive atmosphere,” he said.
Rogge said he expects all 204 national Olympic committees to send athletes to London. Over the weekend, the IOC lifted its suspension of the Kuwait Olympic Committee, allowing athletes from the Gulf emirate to compete under their country’s flag.
Despite the continuing conflict in Syria, Rogge said he expects 8-10 Syrian athletes to compete at the games.