Olympics 2012: Will It Be Safe?

Olympics 2012: Will It Be Safe?

With just less than two weeks before the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, security issues have overshadowed the preparations for the event, leaving the British government majorly embarrassed.

G4S, a private security firm, was awarded a $442m contract to provide much of the security for the London Games.

But despite being the main security contractor for the Games, the company has said that it cannot provide the promised number of security personnel on time, blaming the shortfall on recruitment, processing of applicants and training of staff.

On Wednesday, the British government was forced to put an extra 3,500 military personnel on standby to protect venues during the event.

An estimated total of 23,700 security staff will provide airport-style security checks to screen spectators at the various venues.

The majority of venues have been divided into three zones within Greater London - the Olympic Zone, the River Zone and  the Central Zone with the rest of the venues scattered around Greater London - all of which require tight security.

Theresa May, the British home secretary, came under further pressure as it emerged that the Home Office had been warned about this issue as early as 10 months ago.

Speaking before the House of Commons, May said: "As the defence secretary and I, along with other ministers, have been constantly monitoring the situation and the security contracts over many months. And in consultation [with G4S] we have now agreed that it would be prudent to deploy additional military support to provide greater reassurance."

Nick Buckles, the head of G4S, has since been summoned to appear in parliament. The firm has a staff of 675,000 in areas of handling cash and guarding ships.

At a cost of $442m, G4S was contracted to recruit a staff of about 10,400 as part of a total security force of 23,700.

But it was unable to live up to this agreement – forcing the British government to deploy 3,500 extra military personnel to cover the shortfall.

So now the total number of troops on duty for the London Olympics will be 17,000 – about 7,500 more British soldiers than there are currently in Afghanistan.

The blunder is likely to cost G4S nearly $78m as the company will have to reimburse the government for the extra military deployment.

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