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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

London Summer Games 2012: Are the Olympics safe from attack?

Even though the 2012 Summer Olympic Games are more than 18th months away, its a good bet that London has begun at the very least the initial preparations required of the host nation.  After all, it is one of the 10 largest cities in the world, and probably  one of the most industrialized major cities as well.

However, having said that, there is one issue regarding the 2012 Olympics that still bugs me.  Will London be safe from terrorists attacks once the games are in full swing less than 2 years from now?  And what measures will be taken to prevent possible attacks that might take place outside the designated sporting venues?

Now, I know what you are probably going to say: the 2012 Olympic planning committee has already considered these(and other scenarios), and they are hard at work developing security measures to prevent this exact thing from happening.  While that may be true, there are a couple of things to consider that make London different than many of the other Olympic host cities.

The first is the diverse ethnic makeup of the city itself.  Having been to London myself, for my cousin's wedding in the summer of 2006, I went the majority of people there to be native English.  That couldn't be any farther from the truth, as the city is a mixture of people from Europe and Asia.  On the surface one would think that this rich diversity would make London the utlimate destination for the Olympics.  However, the other thing I found when I was in London was that many of the foreigners now living in the city have assimilated English customs with their own culture, and, in a sense have developed a sort of arrogance to anyone who the deem to be an outsider.  This to me does not bode well for the games.

The other factor that makes hosting the games in London so unpredictable is that while terrorism is rampant around the world, London seems to be more susceptible to it than a lot of other major cities.  Since 9/11/2001, it seems no other major city has had more threats/attacks/attempted attacks than London.  Of course that may be just me.  But I would like to point out that, in 2006 as my aunt and uncle were about to head back to the US, there had just been a thwarted terrorist attack in the US.  The response in London was swift, as the airports at Heathrow and Gatwick shutdown all flights for a couple of hours.  And while that may speak to the security at those airports I believe it also speaks to the paranoia that is in the city as well.

I bring the issue of possible terrorist attacks up not only for the sake of the athletes participating in the 2012 games, but also for the many spectators that will no doubt jump at the chance to witness the games firsthand.  No doubt, if I had the means to do so, and with a little luck in obtaining tickets to the games, I would love to go back to London as it is a beautiful city.  But even though I say that I still wonder how secure the events, and the lodging and shops that surround them, will be.

At the end of the day, there may not really be anything to worry about, as London officials will  more than likely have protocols in place to prevent anything disastrous from happening.  Which would jolly good by me.

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