It is now less than a year to go before London hosts the 2012 Olympic Games, awful scenes of rioting and looting just a few miles from the main Olympic sites have raised huge concerns about security and policing for the event.The unrest started on Saturday night in the Tottenham area of north London following a a police shooting of a civilian on Thursday night, details are this shooting are sketchy. Yesterday the violence spread much closer to the Olympic site when violent scenes broke out in the Hackney area of east London. Groups of hooded and masked youths attacked shops and windows in various parts of London. They pelted riot police with pieces of wood and anything else they could find. Shops and cars have been set alight, even a 145 year old family business was set ablaze. Business owners watched their premises be broken into, looted and burnt.
The London Borough of Hackney is in North London and forms part of inner London. It is one of the five boroughs that borders the Olympic Park. Last night’s violence took place about four miles from the Olympic park itself. This park hosts the Olympic Stadium where the Opening and Closing ceremonies will take place as well as track and field events. Of course there are many other Olympic sites spread around London, which at the moment have not been touched by any violence. Currently over 450 arrests have been made in London in the past two nights.
The second event of the Olympic Test events is due to kick off today at the Horse Guards Parade in London, beach volleyball. 200 delegates from the IOC are in London for the event, the event is scheduled to last until Sunday 14th. These riots are displaying terrible images of London and the UK broadcast to the world ahead of the Olympic Games this time next year.
Prime Minister David Cameron made a statement this morning at 11am, after he chaired a meeting of his emergency Cobra committee. Cameron completely condemned the riots, calling them “sickening scenes” and stating that “robust police action” is needed. 16,000 police officers will be deployed on the streets of London this evening to help combat youths, tripling the amount that were on the streets last night. David Cameron certainly has his work cut out for him to try to render the scenes that have been broadcast abroad ahead of the Olympics.
The beach volleyball event is still scheduled to be going ahead as riots have really only been taking place at night but security will be reviewed and the event may be postponed. The security currently deployed at the test event could probably be best used elsewhere but the MET Police want to show IOC delegates that security is fine.The IOC is quoted as saying:
“Security at the Olympic Games is a top priority for the IOC. It is, however, directly handled by the local authorities, as they know best what is appropriate and proportionate. We are confident they will do a good job in this domain.”
Nick Pearcy from The Telegraph however feels it’s time that the test events are called off. The English football team were due to play a friendly game against the Netherlands in Wembley Stadium on Wednesday night, the FA confirmed the decision on their website today. All other matches set to take place in London these week were cancelled yesterday evening. The Guardian reports that the IOC and the British Olympic Association has declined to make statements.
The rioting and looting means terrible embarrassment for the London 2012 Games and venues are at threat of being damaged. It’s hard to believe that this is the same city that hosted wonderful events 2 weeks ago to mark “One Year to go” until the 2012 Olympics.