U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s office required the organizers of a 2012 Olympics beach volleyball test event to turn down its sound system because it interfered with a meeting about rioting across the country.
A six-day beach volleyball exhibition is taking place at Horse Guards Parade, behind the prime minister’s official residence at 10 Downing Street. Cameron convened a session of the government’s emergency response committee to discuss the unrest that’s led to more than 1,250 arrests since looting and arson attacks began on Aug. 6.
“We were asked to reduce the volume while the prime minister did his briefing yesterday on the riots,” Duncan Firth, director of Drivers Jonas Deloitte, the company responsible for the beach volleyball venue, said in an interview today.
London beat cities like Paris and New York to the right to host the games after promising to host events at iconic locations like Horse Guards Parade. The temporary stadium is next to the prime minister’s residence, close to Buckingham Palace, Whitehall and Trafalgar Square.
Next year the horse-shoe shaped stadium will hold 15,000 people, offering a vista of the London Eye observation wheel. The capacity is limited to 1,500 for the beach volleyball event as organizers assess transport and security procedures.
A Downing Street spokeswoman confirmed that there was a request made to turn down sound system.
The volume from the speakers, which blasted out music such as London artist Dizzee Rascal’s “Bonkers” between points, and game commentary, had to be reduced again briefly today as Cameron stepped out of his office to address the media at 11 a.m. local time with the latest information about the rioting.
“The prime minister made a speech earlier, so we had to keep our volume down,” announcer Layla Anna-Lee told the crowd as competitors from the Netherlands and Vanuatu played a game. “We can make some noise now.”
Cameron has visited the site and was presented with a volleyball before he left for a vacation in Italy, Firth said. He returned a week earlier than scheduled.
Extra security was in place because of the arena’s proximity to government offices and residences of the country’s royal family. Background checks have been done on construction workers who share a road to get to the venue with officials, including the prime minister.
“It’s a big challenge,” said Firth, who’s visited Downing Street and worked closely with the Metropolitan Police. “We’ve got a lot of important neighbors. I’ve been to Downing Street to discuss security issues.”
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