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Security at the Olympic Games

The millions of people who will attend the Games in less than two months hope to watch the spectacle without encountering any mishaps. Missiles, assault ships and a sonic weapon are being prepared to protect those attending the event.


Javier Duque

The most important sporting event, the Olympic Games, will commence in London on July 27. It will be 2012‘s biggest movement of people, beaten only by the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

There will be 10500 athletes, representatives from 205 different countries, around 120 heads of state and about 50000 journalists.

It is predicted that 3 August will be the most hectic day, with about 5 million journeys being made on the London Underground, compared with 3.5 million on a normal day.

Facing this avalanche of spectators , the following questions arise: Will this number of people be able to travel safely throughout the city? Will security forces be capable of controlling any threats? What kind of security measures are to be taken?

Of course, these are issues the British Government take very seriously, aware that any kind of danger could occur,  especially since 2007‘s terrorist attacks which took place on several tube lines and bus routes, leaving a total of 56 people dead.

A terrorist attack is one of the five threats and dangers which could put the Games’ security at risk, according to a report produced by the Home Office.

The other four are: organised crime, “domestic extremism” (a term coined by British police — with no legal basis — to describe activists who attend protests), public disorder,  serious accidents and natural disasters.

To avoid any unpleasant surprises an estimated £1 billion has been set aside which will convert the event into the highest security operation the United Kingdom has seen during times of peace.

The safety measures being taken involve more than 23700 individuals, a figure which includes army officers, private security guards and about 3000 volunteers. London, which has more CCTV cameras per capita than any other city in the world, will be protected by land, sea and air.

The UK Ministry of Defence has chosen the roofs of 5 London buildings to station surface-to-air missiles as part of a security plan for a possible terrorist attack.

If the decision over the installation of the antimissile system is not yet definite, possible locations in the East and South East of the British Capital have now been identified.

Meanwhile, some of the area’s residents have received informative leaflets, explaining this possibility to them. It seems few have warmed to the idea.

This military strategy — which will represent a last opportunity to deter anything threatening that nears the Olympic Park, and which will be capable of detecting any suddenly approaching airplanes — will be one of many.

Another of the wide range of military equipment which will be employed during the Games is a sonic weapon, usually used for protection against hijack attacks and to disperse violent crowds.

The force of the sound emitted by the sonic weapon is stronger than the noise generated during the takeoff of military planes, and just short of the strength needed to perforate the eardrum.

Additionally , there will be a zone cordoned off with an 18 kilometre fence, patrolled by trained agents and 55 teams of attack dogs.

Protection by sea will come in the form of the Royal Navy’s largest ship, “HMS Ocean”, which will be docked in the River Thames and serve as a base for Navy helicopters and sniper teams.

And by air, unmanned drones will scan the ground from above, equipped with CCTV cameras capable of distinguishing a car’s registration number from one kilometre of height.

Other dangers

Not all threats presented to the Olympic Games come in the form of terrorist attacks. Since 2008, for example, “lottery results” with an attached computer virus have been received by email.

With the Games around the corner these emails have increased.  Recently, there has been one which has been particularly difficult for antivirus programmes to detect, and has been spreading under the name “Early Check-In 2012 Olympics.doc”.

Smartphones, which allow their users to do practically anything through their applications, can also be at risk. That is to say, their users are. Through false “apps”, mainly claiming to pertain/belong to well-known companies and banks, delinquents aim to steal private information and bank details.

Some of the more popular examples are those which claim the opportunity to see Usain Bolt, Rafael Nadal, Kobe Bryant, or any of the other thousands of athletes competing, can leave the Smartphone user without seeing their favourite star and their money.

To prevent this, the best way to keep safe and not be defrauded is by buying “apps” through authorised sellers, which can be found on the London 2012 website.

Some of the security measures being prepared for the Olympics have been criticised by many citizens for being considered excessive, to which the Government has responded that although thus far there have been no dangerous threats, it will be prepared should any arise.

However, this preparation is going underway so that the big event can take off/commence, and everybody can support their favourite athlete to help them win a medal.

A medal which, should everything run smoothly given the number of security measures being taken, all security personnel should also deserve to wear.

(Translated by Rosa Elswood).

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