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UK police: No armed FBI agents at Olympics
Question of the Day
LONDON — The national security coordinator for the 2012 London Olympics sharply rejected reports that armed FBI agents would be taking part in securing the games, insisting Tuesday that Britain does not need outside help to keep the event safe.
Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison dismissed a Guardian newspaper report suggesting that the United States would send dozens of armed FBI agents to protect U.S. interests.
Though he has denied the report before, the issue has continued to fester, suggesting tensions between Britain and the United States, which sends a huge contingent of athletes to the Olympics.
“There will be no foreign armed personnel here,” Mr. Allison said.
The news conference for international media seemed designed to stamp out the notion that other countries - and particularly the United States - lacked confidence in security preparations for the games.
Underscoring that point, Paul Deighton, the chief executive officer of the London organizing committee, sat beside Mr. Allison and staunchly repeated that all the planning - including security - is on track.
Mr. Deighton said that the number of security guards at venues remains under discussion, and that volunteers could be called upon to do tasks at the start of the screening process - bolstering the security presence.
“It is essentially a welcome activity saying, ‘You are welcome to the Olympic Park, and you are about to go through a screening process. It might be helpful if you took your coat off now and maybe your belt to get through screening faster,’ [“] Mr. Deighton said earlier.
Security has been a costly and critical issue for the games since a terrorist attack at the 1972 Summer Games in Munich, in which 11 Israeli athletes and coaches died.
The Olympics continue to offer a ready platform for any terrorist group, as international focus already is directed at events broadcast live worldwide.
London itself also has been touched by such troubles. Four suicide bombers targeted the city’s transit network in 2005, killing 52 commuters - an attack that took place one day after the Olympics were awarded to London and forever linked the two events together in public perception.
The London Games are seen as a high security threat. The British government is planning for the national terrorist threat to be “severe” during the Olympics, meaning an attempted attack is highly likely.
About 12,000 police officers will also be on duty on the busiest days of the July 27-Aug. 12 games. The massive operation includes 11 police departments.
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