By HENRY CHU | Los Angeles Times
LONDON — Can the Games actually begin?
From airport tie-ups to security stumbles to the 50 shades of gray of London’s “summer,” British officials and organizers of the Olympics are fighting rising concerns over how ready this city is to host the world’s biggest sporting event, which kicks off in two weeks.
Snafus on London’s overloaded transport network have angered commuters and embarrassed the government. Beach volleyball could turn into mud wrestling if record wet weather persists, though poncho and “brolly” vendors stand to earn gold.
And on Thursday, officials announced that the massive security operation surrounding the Olympics will be even more heavily militarized than anticipated, with an extra 3,500 British troops being summoned to back up the 13,500 already assigned. Some are likely to be soldiers freshly returned from combat in Afghanistan, hoping for rest but instead being pressed into duty as part of Britain’s largest peacetime mobilization of its armed forces in memory.
The additional personnel is necessary because the private security company hired to provide up to 20,000 guards now acknowledges that it will probably fail to reach its target. Government ministers are furious, but say they have little choice except to tap the military, which is already struggling with major spending cuts.
“There is no question of Olympic security being compromised,” Home Secretary Theresa May told the House of Commons in a hastily convened session Thursday. “Our troops are highly skilled and highly trained, and this task is the most important facing our nation today.”