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Olympics Organizers Grapple with Security Concerns

July 18, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
Organizers of the London Olympic Games face security concerns and unfinished opening ceremonies with only nine more days to go. Keir Simmons of Independent Television News has a report.
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TRANSCRIPT

GWEN IFILL: A little more than a week before the torch is lit at the London Olympic Games and organizers are still grappling with a series of problems. They range from a decision today to trim opening night ceremonies that would have lasted past midnight to much more serious concerns, like a shortage of private security guards.

The British Home Office wrestled today with what to do about the security issue.

Keir Simmons of Independent Television News begins our coverage with this report.

KEIR SIMMONS: Already, the government is drafting in 3,500 extra military. They were continuing to set up camp in East London today. They may need plenty of space. Another 2,500 could be called upon.

Such is the failure of G4S to provide security staff. The company is training more people. But the opening ceremony is now desperately close.

The issue they are facing in here tonight comes down to this. Do they trust G4S if it says it now has enough staff, and get blamed if that turns out to be wrong again? Or do they call in even more service men and women and get criticized if they aren’t needed? And they need to make the decision in the next 24 hours.

ITV News has learned that the home secretary overruled a plan to cut training like this in order to get more security guards. One proposal was even to teach G4S employees on site whilst they were already working. The idea that this was even suggested has some deeply worried.

KEITH VAZ, Home Affairs Select Committee: The concern yesterday was whether or not G4S would have the numbers on the day. The concern today is that those who turn up perhaps have not been trained as well as they should be to pick up those pieces of information and those telltale signs which mean that they should stop people.

KEIR SIMMONS: Tonight, the prime minister was visiting troops in Afghanistan. Some of the military working at the Olympics will have been serving here just weeks earlier.

DAVID CAMERON, British Prime Minister: When it comes to the Olympics, we have to have — be ready for any contingency. We have to make sure they’re a safe and secure Olympics. I salute and applaud what the military have done to step in, and I think they’re doing an excellent job. If there are further steps we have to take, of course, we will take them.

KEIR SIMMONS: All the same, in Coventry and at venues across the country today, police were again needed, because too few G4S staff have turned up.