The British government has added 1,200 troops to cover security at the London Olympics, bringing the total military contingent to well over 17,000.
The move is “just to absolutely de-risk any of the program,” said Games chief executive Paul Deighton. “With three days to go, we just want to make sure that this absolutely works without any worry at all.”
The government was forced to bring in additional troop because of the failure of private security firm G4S Plc to train 10,4000 guards. G4S has said it will only be able to provide around 7,000. It has trained 6,000 so far.
The government initially called up 3,500 troops to fill in the gap caused by G4S and put another 1,200 on standby. Those standby soldiers were put into action Tuesday. Deighton indicated that no further troops will be needed. “We now have the full security deployment to deliver these Games,” he said.
While more soldiers moved into Olympic venues, London police played down the threat of terrorism at the Games.
“I’m very satisfied that we’re in a very good place,” said Chris Allison, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police who is co-ordinating roughly 5,000 officers at the Games. “We’ve done all the planning. We’ve looked at the way in which terrorists attacked in the past and we’ve tried to make sure that none of those could get through our security measures.”
Allison said the threat level is at “significant,” the second-highest level.
He added that police have made 200 Olympic-related arrests so far, mainly over fraudulent tickets.
While Games officials enjoyed a second day of sunshine and hot summer weather, not everything was going off without a hitch. A dress rehearsal of the opening ceremony ran into some trouble when two subway lines stopped working just as thousands of performers left the Olympic Stadium. That could be a huge concern on the day of the opening, with roughly 60,000 spectators leaving at once. But Games officials said the extra lines running through Stratford International, the station next to the Olympic Park, were more than enough to handle the performers and that the system has extra capacity to cope with any disruptions.
The government and Games officials are also bracing for a possible strike Thursday by 5,000 border officials. Their union has called for a one-day strike to protest pension changes and job cuts.
Secretary of State for Transport Justine Greening said the government is working on a contingency plan in case of a strike, but she added: “I very much hope that we’ll see border force employees turning up for work.”