- - Monday, August 22, 2011

LONDON — The rioting and looting that shocked Britain two weeks ago are raising questions about whether London is a secure location for next year’s Summer Olympics.

One German lawmaker has suggested moving the games, and British athletes are grumbling about the damage that rioters have caused to London’s image as one of Europe’s safer cities.

“The image of London burning doesn’t send a good message globally,” said Eugene McLaughlin, a professor of criminology at City University London who has written extensively about crime and police-community relations.

“I think that’s why politicians began to take it seriously, as the images relayed around the world. It is not good news if you are trying to sell Britain as a tourist or Olympic destination.”

German lawmaker Manuel Hoeferlin said last week that he thought officials should consider moving the Olympics if rioting and looting resumed.

Three days after riots erupted on Aug. 6, Scotland Yard deployed 16,000 police to quell the unrest, which also had spread to other parts of Britain.

“If under normal circumstances, you need such a large number of police to control such violence, then how will it be at games time when you have so many visitors?” Mr. Hoeferlin said.

Meanwhile, on Chinese state-run television, a report suggested that the riots had seriously hurt London’s image and raised concerns about safety measures for the Olympics.

Britain’s athletes condemned the violence and warned that foreigners would not want to come to London for the games.

“These idiots rioting, makes me so mad. They aren’t fighting for a cause, just got nothing better to do,” Andy Turner, a hurdler, said on Twitter.

Four days of rioting and looting followed a peaceful demonstration in north London over the fatal police shooting of a local resident with reported links to criminal gangs.

Police are investigating the circumstances that led to the shooting of Mark Duggan, 29.

On Friday, police officials said they had arrested 1,802 people in connection with the rioting and looting in the capital that left five people dead.

Insurance companies expect to pay out in excess of $329 million in damages, according to the Association of British Insurers.

Chris Allison, assistant police commissioner and Scotland Yard’s national Olympic security coordinator, promised a review of safety preparations for the games.

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