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Olympic Chief Praises London Over Handling of Security Shortfall

Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, praised London 2012 organizers and the U.K. government for the way they’ve handled a shortage of security guards.

The government assigned 3,500 extra soldiers to Olympic venues after G4S Plc, the world’s largest security company, said it couldn’t meet the terms of its 284-million pound ($442 million) contract to provide 13,700 guards for the games, which start on July 27. That takes the total number of troops at the games to 17,000.

“It’s been handled well,” Rogge said on a conference call today. “What counts is the flexibility of the organizing committee and the government when something comes up. They have been very flexible and very adaptive.”

Nick Buckles, chief executive officer of Crawley, southern England-based G4S, has been summoned to testify before the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee tomorrow. G4S said in a statement on July 13 it expects to lose as much as 50 million pounds on the contract. Its shares dropped as much as 10 percent today.

“There will be an extra input of soldiers, and this is something that gives us tranquility, because the soldiers will compensate for the security people that will not be provided by G4S,” Rogge said.

The IOC’s Coordination Commission has been informed of the problems, he added.

The IOC isn’t worried that the extra military presence may affect the image of the London Olympics.

Won’t Spoil Fun

“They will not be running around with machine guns,” Rogge said. “There’s always been security in place, but not too visible, not obtrusive, and this will definitely not spoil the fun.”

The British government yesterday said it wasn’t at fault over G4S’s failure to supply enough security guards for the London Olympics and the security of the games won’t be compromised.

“We, of course, have been monitoring the situation with G4S and their management told us right up until last week that everything was on track,” Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the minister responsible for the Olympics, told BBC television yesterday. “We were asking the right questions.”

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