Belfast Telegraph

London-bound athletes and fans dismiss Olympic fears

By Chris Kilpatrick

London Olympics bosses have stressed that security has not been put at risk by staff shortages — and it seems their message is getting through.

On the back of the G4S debacle, which saw the security firm admit it had not recruited enough staff in time for the Games, it seems that fans preparing to head to the greatest show on Earth are satisfied with the troop numbers drafted in to plug the gap.

The Belfast Telegraph spoke to a number of people from Northern Ireland involved in the Olympics, which begin in London on Friday, July 27.

They all reported feeling safe heading to the sporting spectacle.

The Games will take place at more than 100 venues with 2,000 sessions due. Concerns have been raised regarding the ability to provide adequate security to see off any potential terror attacks in light of last week’s revelations.

Chief executive of the Olympic Council of Ireland, Stephen Martin, said none of the 65 athletes competing under its guise had raised any concerns to him.

Speaking from the Olympic Village last night, he said: “We have to put our trust in Locog (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games).

“No-one in the village has mentioned security.

“We trust Locog will deliver the security required for the Games.”

Mr Martin arrived at the village yesterday and said he had not encountered any hold-ups when travelling to, or on arrival at, the Olympic Village.

He said athletes were due to arrive at the village from this morning.

Bangor’s Matt McGovern (above) will be going for gold in sailing.

The 27-year-old headed off this morning and said he is confident there won’t be major disruption caused by the G4S shortfall.

“From my experience at big events in the past, every time you leave the venue you have to take your accreditation.

“It will be something I will have to put time and thought into, so you do alter your routine,” he said.

“On a grander scale, I don’t have any concerns about security.

“At the end of the day they are bringing in 3,500 troops and I would like to think it will be well orchestrated.

“I would say this is more of a precautionary move.”

Mr McGovern said he doesn’t believe the situation will lead to any large scale issues in terms of logistics.

Teacher Thomas Cartmill, from Portstewart in Co Londonderry, is travelling over with five friends to take in two hockey matches. The group is flying to London for the events on Sunday, August 5, returning the following Wednesday.

“I have been following it on the news in recent days,” the 35-year-old said.

“I'm pretty sure it will get sorted, though, and I'm not concerned about the situation.

“I'm confident everything will be all right.”

While he said security wasn't an issue in his mind, Mr Cartmill said he does have concerns about transport in London throughout the Games.

“I am concerned about transport more than anything,” he revealed.

“I just don't think they will be able to cope with the volume of people.

“While we are there we will be using the Tube so we booked tickets for afternoon sessions in case there were any hitches or security issues.”

Lord Coe, who headed up the campaign to bring the Games to London back in 2005, moved to reassure the public at the weekend that security has not been compromised in any way

“We have two weeks to get this right and we will get this right,” Lord Coe said.

“Security has not been compromised and it will not be compromised on the Olympic Park.

“I am confident that we will get the right mix (of security staff and military personnel) and that we will have a safe and secure games.”

Belfast Telegraph


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