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Olympic Security Concerns for London 2012

by Michael Higham, published
Credit: Paul Brown,

As countries around the world gather this next month for the 2012 Summer Olympic games in London, security concerns have stirred controversy. Great Britain has not been militarized since World War II, but London's robust military presence changed that. Security measures include guards on site, maritime defense, and air defense. With countries' officials, athletes, and spectators, the international community has a vested interest in London's plans.

A prominent security concern involves the shortcoming of private security firm G4S. The Ministry of Defence was prompted to provide 3,500 troops to make up for the shortfall of G4S. However, it was confirmed today that G4S has been replaced by a local firm for St. James' Park. The assignment is to provide guards for the Soccer matches taking place in Newcastle, England. Sebastian Coe, chairman of London 2012, says that the G4S controversy does not compromise Olympic security.

Earlier this month, High Court judge Charles Hadden-Cave, gave the green light to install anti-aircraft missiles atop apartment buildings. The surface-to-air missile battery raised concern among the citizens living in Fred Wigg Tower. The residents claimed it made them a target if there were an terrorist air threat, but the argument was dismissed. The battery is supposed to deter a plane hijacking. If prompted with such a situation, the decision to fire would be in the hands of Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Telegraph interviewed a local resident of Tower Hamlets and had this to say,

I don't think anyone wants to live in a militarized apartment building. Obviously there are security issues around the Olympics but I think this is over-reactive

Surface-to-air missile deployments around London are only one layer of a multi-layered defense plan. The helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, a helicopter carrier will also be afloat on the River Thames. Royal Air Force fighter jets will also be ready for deployment at the RAF Northolt base.

The recent bombing of an Israeli tour bus in Bulgaria has also stirred security concerns. As Israel approaches the Olympics, they will be on high alert. Israel has denied a plan to have agents actively seeking possible terror attacks during the Olympics.

Israel is recognizing the 40th anniversary of the tragedy during the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and two were killed by a Palestinian terrorist organization.

The 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia also faced a terror attack. Eric Rudolph set off bombs in Centennial Olympic Park that killed two citizens and injured 111 others.

Great Britain has a legitimate concern with regards to keeping the Olympic games safe. Some contend that the militarization of London is unnecessary and even dangerous for the residents. This is a large peacetime security operation, but is London getting it right or going too far?

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