Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images
During the past two weeks of Olympic mania, the UK media has been unashamedly blinded by gold.
Even the most cynical of British hacks were more interested in the country’s growing medal tally than the logistical arrangements which had occupied thousands of column inches in the months leading up to the games.
But as the closing ceremony approaches, perhaps it is time to take stock of the UK’s organisational performance – specifically on security. The plans laid by games organisers and the Home Office hit a last-minute setback when it emerged only days before the event that G4S, a private contractor, would not be able to provide the promised 10,400 venue guards and the army would have to step in to cover the shortfall. At the time, the company said that it would only be able to guarantee around 5,000 guards for the start of the games, so what have they actually delivered?
G4S was proudly tweeting earlier this week that 7,500 of its staff were working at games venues and that the additional 3,500 military drafted in to make up the numbers were being withdrawn.
Things have not gone entirely smoothly, however.
A tented village designed to promote the culture of African countries taking part in the Olympics has been forced to close amid reports of financial difficulties.
A person familiar with the Africa Village project, which cost about €3m (£2.4m), said there had been problems paying suppliers of the exhibits, which in particular affected the contractors providing security.
Roger Blitz reports on the ‘Olympic squaddies’, whose khaki uniforms are now as familiar around the games venues as the logo and livery of London 2012.
As performers dressed up as Jarrow marchers and suffragettes to play their part in an Olympic opening ceremony which celebrated dissent, present-day protesters were being arrested on the streets of London.
Protesters claimed they were “kettled” – pushed into a cordoned-off area – by police near the Olympic Park on Friday evening as anti-Olympics demonstrators bolstered the ranks of the hundreds of cyclists who took part in the regular “Critical Mass” event.
More than 180 people were arrested for breaching one of the conditions applied to the protest, that it must stay south of the river Thames, by heading towards the stadium at Stratford. Four have been charged, with the remaining 178 released on bail pending further enquiries, the Met police said.
The Olympics offer a chance for a deeper debate in the UK over how the Army can be used in homeland resilience, says James Blitz