Olympics organizers say early problems are minor
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
LONDON -- London Games officials dismissed concerns Tuesday over a lost bus driver, a scramble for more security guards and some rain-soaked venues -- embarrassments that had one tabloid newspaper headline using the Olympic rings to spell out the word "OOPS!"
Organizers said some of the complaints were exaggerated and tried to put the best face on the unfolding security debacle, as well as other concerns about the games, which start in 10 days.
"Let's put this in proportion," London Olympics head Sebastian Coe said. "This has not, nor will it, impact on the safety and security of these games. That, of course, is our No. 1 priority."
His efforts were undercut in Parliament, where the chief executive of the G4S security group, Nick Buckles, acknowledged that his company's failure to recruit enough Olympic staff had embarrassed the entire nation. Some 3,500 British troops -- including some just back from Afghanistan -- had to be called in on short notice to fill the gap. Thousands more military personnel had already been assigned to the games.
Buckles gave a mea culpa on live TV as he was being questioned by angry lawmakers.
"It's a humiliating shambles for the country, isn't it?" asked Labour lawmaker David Winnick.
"I cannot disagree with you," Buckles said.
Some U.S. security and law enforcement officials had privately expressed concerns as early as last year that there might not be enough personnel for the London Games.