Prime Minister David Cameron ordered the deployment of a further 1,200 British troops to provide security for the London Olympic Games to “leave nothing to chance” with the opening ceremony just three days away
The military will now have 18,200 personnel at Olympic sites after G4S Plc, the world’s biggest security company, failed to supply adequate staff for the games. Today’s decision does not reflect on G4S’s performance in recent days, which has improved, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.
“G4S numbers continue to rise significantly and we have every expectation that will continue to be the case,” Hunt said in an e-mailed statement after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee for the Olympics in London today. “However, ministers decided that we should deploy the additional 1,200 troops that were put on standby last week.”
The announcement two weeks ago by G4S that it wouldn’t be able to deliver all the 10,000 security guards it had pledged for the games has cast the biggest shadow over the preparations for the Olympics, the world’s biggest sporting event. Almost twice as many British soldiers are involved in games security as are deployed in Afghanistan.
“On the eve of the largest peacetime event ever staged in this country, ministers are clear that we should leave nothing to chance,” Hunt said after the meeting, which was held under Cameron’s chairmanship. “The government continues to have every confidence that we will deliver a safe and secure games.”
“We have made very good progress in the last few days,” G4S, based in Crawley, south of London, said in an e-mailed statement today. The company currently has “around 5,800 security personnel deployed at Olympic venues.”
Amid continuing concerns about congestion on London’s transportation system during the games, the Greater Anglia rail franchise said today it would scrap some trains to the Olympic district of Stratford after Network Rail Ltd. imposed speed restrictions as temperatures as high as 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) caused rails to expand.
“A small number of trains won’t stop at Stratford out of about 600 scheduled to do so,” spokesman Peter Meades said. Greater Anglia trains run to Stratford from London’s Liverpool Street station.
The Javelin trains serving Stratford from St. Pancras during the games use the High Speed 1 Channel Tunnel line and aren’t so far affected, SouthEastern Trains spokeswoman Sarah Boundy said by telephone.
Further disruption to road journeys is likely tomorrow, when the Olympic Route Network, featuring lanes reserved for traffic linked to the games, comes into full operation.
London cab drivers plan to stage more protests tomorrow around the capital, disrupting traffic, after being banned from using the lanes, which will generally be closed to ordinary vehicles from 6 a.m. until midnight.
“Disruptions will continue during the games unless the government intervenes and taxis are allowed in the lanes,” Dave Davies, a spokesman for the cabbies, said by telephone. “We’ll take action around the city without informing when or where.”