LONDON, UK (Wed, Jul 18) – With just less than 10 days before the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, security concerns have outshined the preparations for one of the biggest sporting event in the world, leaving the British government majorly humiliated.
G4S, a private security firm, was awarded a $442m contract to provide much of the security for the event. Thousands of team officials and athletes from all over the world will arrive this week, and masses of visitors are expected to follow. But should they be worried?
The failure of G4S to deliver enough security staff to cover Olympic venues has raised the debate once again about the role of the private sector in delivering public services. Contrast to the contract G4S said it has only about 4,000 guards trained and ready, although it claims to have 7,000 fully qualified security staff by the time the Games kick off on July 27.
G4S failure to recruit, train and scrutinize enough staff on timely basis forced the British government to declare last week that it was arranging an extra 3,500 troops on a very short notice to cover the difference.
Now the 17,000 British military personnel deployed for the Games - about 7,500 more British soldiers than there are currently in Afghanistan - are to help out with the security checks and stewarding at venues, as well as specialist tasks such as bomb disposal and sniffer dog searches.
According to Al Jazeera; the British home secretary Theresa May came under further pressure as it was unfolded that the Home Office had been informed about this concern as early as 10 months ago.
While the recruitment failure by G4S is highly embarrassing for the company -- and led its share price to drop sharply -- the Games' organizers insist that their contingency planning will keep everyone safe, CNN reported.
The blunder is likely to cost G4S nearly $78m as the company will have to reimburse the government for the extra military deployment.