Tuesday, January 10, 2012

UK PM visits Olympic Park for 200-day countdown

Britain's prime minister will hold a special Cabinet meeting Monday at Olympic Park amid tight security, marking 200 days until the Summer Games and promising that the event will offer a lasting legacy for the nation.
Prime Minister David Cameron and other officials will discuss how to make the most of the Olympic spectacle and how best to use it to promote British interests.
"This is the perfect time for the Cabinet to come together and ensure we are doing absolutely everything we can to make the most of this unique opportunity to showcase all the great things the UK has to offer to the rest of the world," Cameron said.
As the Olympic milestone was celebrated, organizers grappled with controversies in security and ticketing ahead of an event that has so far been largely on time and within budget.
On the security front, UK police carrying out tests managed to smuggle a fake bomb onto the main site. While the Olympic Delivery Authority declined to directly comment on the incident, it said "testing is standard practice" in all major security operations.
"Such tests have a key role in developing our capability to ensure that London 2012 is safe and secure and that we are best prepared to detect potential threats before and during the Games," the statement said. "Members of the public with tickets should be reassured that such exercises are being staged to ensure their safety, our number one priority."
The terror threat is the biggest security worry for the Olympics. Security has been an intricate part of the games since an attack at the 1972 Olympics in Munich killed 11 Israeli athletes and coaches. London itself has not been immune from terror attacks –
four suicide bombers killed 52 commuters in 2005 when they targeted the city's transit network.
Britain expects the national terror threat to be "severe" during the Olympics, meaning an attempted attack is highly likely. About 12,000 police officers will be on duty on the busiest days of the games – which run from July 27 to Aug. 12 – while up to 13,500 troops will be deployed on land, at sea and in the skies. The security budget for the Olympics is more than £1 billion (US$1.6 billion.)
Meanwhile, organizers grappled with yet another ticketing problem: A limited ticket sale has been suspended indefinitely after computer problems kept causing trouble for buyers.
The tickets came from customers who decided to submit them for resale, but the online system did not work properly and sales remained suspended Monday, a spokeswoman for the organizing committee said.
The tickets are only being sold in Europe. Customers can still go to the site and get tickets for soccer and the Paralympics.
Organizers have struggled with ticket sales from the start. A complicated lottery system in which people blindly registered for tickets and handed over their credit card details before learning what tickets they were frustrated thousands who wished to see the spectacle.
Two-thirds of ticket seekers failed to obtain any in the first round of sales, with 22 million requests for 6.6 million available tickets.
Another round was blighted by computer problems and there is no indication when the resale efforts would be resumed. (nvn)

The Jakarta Post

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