For those old enough to remember the 1972 Olympics tragedy, not having sufficient security at the London Olympics is cause for concern. In the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, in what was then West Germany, 11 members of the Israeli Olympic Team, including coaches, were taken hostage and eventually killed.
In the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, there was the Centennial Olympic Park bombing by a terrorist, which was the first of four incidents perpetrated by Eric Rudolph. It killed two people and left 111 injured. Considering the high profile of Olympic events and the history of violence, it behooves London Olympics organizers to ensure the safety of the athletes, coaches and spectators.
The news report today by CNN that the security is falling short of expectations is causing British lawmakers to question the chief executive of security contractor. The report says the security contractor will not be able to supply the 10,400 guards originally agreed upon.
Nick Buckles, the chief executive of G4S Security Company, told CNN that “we regret signing the contract.” In response to the announcement by G4S, the British government has called in 3,500 military personnel to assist and will be engaging extra police as well.
The security company has a $444 million dollar contract, but was only able to provide 4,000 guards, which is not nearly enough. Buckles projected 7,000 would be ready by the opening day, but qualified the estimate by saying the exact number was “a moving target.”
The company said it accepts 100% percent responsibility for paying for additional security and will reimburse police forces that provide officers for G4S shortfalls. Additionally, it will "consider" paying bonuses to military and police who are called in to assist with security, Buckles said.
While not inherently posing a security threat, the Olympics have been used as a stage for political statements by athletes, and the United States was one of the most memorable. In 1968,and wore black arm bands and raised their arms in a Black Power salute. Peter Norman, an Austrailian who shared the medal platform with them, also showed support and wore a human rights badge on his shirt as the three stood to receive their medals.
Some demonstrations are benign; however, security is always a concern based on historical incidents because the Olympics feature an international stage and are televised around the world. It therefore provides a venue for all sorts of demonstrations and protests. An estimated four billion people watched the Olympics from Athens, and the numbers increase with every succeeding Olympics. The London Olympics will more than likely be breaking records for numbers of viewers.
Opening ceremonies are on July 27, and the closing ceremony will be on August 12. Accordong the official 2012 London Olympics site, the events include: