Entries in 2012 Olympic Games (19)


UK Deploys Additional 1,200 Troops to Secure Olympic Games

MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- With just three days to go before the summer Olympics kick off in London, the British government has decided to deploy an additional 1,200 troops who were on standby to boost security at the Games.

The move comes after private security contractor G4S failed to deliver enough guards for the event.

With the added troops, the number of British military personnel tasked with securing the Games is up to nearly 18,000 -- almost twice the amount of troops the U.K. sends to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban.

In a statement Tuesday, Olympics Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the decision to take the troops out of standby was more of a precaution.

"On the eve of the largest peacetime event ever staged in this country, Ministers are clear that we should leave nothing to chance," Hunt said.  "The Government continues to have every confidence that we will deliver a safe and secure Games.”

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Olympic Torch Arrives in London

MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- As the clock continues to tick towards the start of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the Olympic torch made its arrival in the host city on Friday, but not without some drama.
After taveling for 63 days as part of a torch relay, the Olympic flame arrived in London and was abseiled into the Tower of London from a helicopter, by a Royal Marine. The BBC reports that the abseiling was done at the fitting time of 20:12.
Hours earlier, in the morning, a 17-year-old boy was arrrested after authorities said he tried to grab the torch as it made its way through the streets of Gravesend.
"I remember the sight of this guy, he jumped to me," Anna Skora -- the torch bearer at the time of the incident -- said to BBC South East.
The suspect was not successful in grabbing the torch and was quickly arrested by security.
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2012 Olympics: Cabbie Expects Road Closures, Gets Creative

ABC News(LONDON) -- A London cab driver, worried about how traffic might hurt his business during the 2012 Olympics, has decided to become a hotelier, at least for the short term.

David Weekes has transformed his traditional black London taxi into a single bed, complete with a Union Jack blanket. The cost of sleeping in his cab is 50 pounds or about $78.

He said cab drivers aren’t sure if they’re going to be earning any money during the Olympics, partially because of road closures.  Hundreds of London taxi drivers blocked a major intersection earlier this week to protest the lane exclusions.

But Weekes decided to get creative.

“So many hotel rooms are charging an extraordinary prices for a room for a night, ” he said. “And I thought, well, why not rent out my cab for a night?”

He hasn’t had any bookings yet, but there’s still a week to go. Weekes plans to add curtains and a solar-powered fridge before the games.

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Olympic Torch Sparks Controversy About Bearers

MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Raquel Matos, a 16-year-old champion Scottish swimmer, carried the Olympic torch for part of its journey through Edinburgh, Scotland, and was thrilled over the honor.

“It’s like showing how this one flame brings the world together,” said Matos, after completing her section of the torch relay Thursday.

The teenager is one of 8,000 people selected by several games’ panels to carry the torch around the majority of the United Kingdom.  Controversy surrounding this selection process recently came to public attention after one young athlete from the west of England had his torch bearing privilege revoked two weeks before he was supposed to run.  He was replaced by two wealthy business executives, reportedly recommended by Adidas, a major sponsor of London 2012.

“There’s been a lot of rumors that people are paying to carry the torch,” Jillian Hilling from the U.K. Labor party told ABC News.  “I know we all made a collective decision that we can’t expect taxpayers to entirely fund the Olympics, and we do need sponsors.  But people are saying that there’s a lot of business people carrying the flame.”

Hilling voiced these concerns earlier Friday in the British Parliament.  Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson replied that he had seen “absolutely no evidence” of these claims.

“The London Organizing Committee have specifically gone out of their way to look for community champions,” Robertson remarked.

A spokesperson for the Organizing Committee said, “She basically got confused.  In the case of the young man who didn’t end up running, he was never ‘replaced’ by Adidas.  He failed background checks.”

But the family of Jason Taylor, the young athlete in question, insist that his record is clean.

“We know he hasn’t done anything wrong,” Julie Berrisford, Taylor’s mother, told ABC News.  “He was sent an email by the committee congratulating him, that his background check was clear.  Then two weeks before he was supposed to run, he was sent another email saying he had failed the check.”

Taylor refused to comment, but Berrisford added, “I’d like if they put it right and gave an apology so he can get his reputation back.  A local politician has now taken up the case and hopefully they’ll find something.”

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Director Reveals Plans for London Olympics' Opening Ceremony

MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Oscar-winning British director Danny Boyle wants to make the opening ceremony of the upcoming Summer Olympics in London as pleasant as possible.

Boyle, whose credits include Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours, is the artistic director for the ceremony, and on Tuesday he revealed what he has in store.

According to the U.K.'s The Guardian, the ceremony will recreate the English countryside and showcase a "green and pleasant land." Olympic Stadium will have real grass and real soil -- not to mention 70 sheep, 12 horses, 10 chickens and an assortment of other live animals.

Boyle's vision also includes a cricket team, mosh pits representing the country's famous Glastonbury music festival, and even clouds that will manufacture "rain" in case the real stuff doesn't come down from the skies on the night of the opening ceremony.

The opening ceremony will cost 27 million British pounds or $42 million.

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IOC Won't Hold Minute of Silence for 1972 Israeli Olympic Team

MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- At the opening ceremonies of this year's Summer Olympics in London, the Israeli government wants everyone to observe a minute of silence for its 11 athletes and coaches slain during the 1972 Olympic by Palestinian terrorists.

However, the International Olympic Committee has said no to the request.

Even while saying the IOC "sympathizes with the victims’ families and understands their lasting pain," President Jacques Rogge told the deputy foreign minister of Israel, Danny Ayalon, that the Olympics "has officially paid tribute to the memory of the athletes on several occasions and will continue to do so in close coordination with the National Olympic Committee of Israel."

Ayalon made the proposal on behalf of widows of two of the slain athletes, who've urged the IOC to observe a minute of silence for the dead Israelis since the attack 40 years ago.

The Israeli official called Rogge's response "unacceptable," adding, "The terrorist murders of the Israeli athletes were not just an attack on people because of their nationality and religion; it was an attack on the Olympic Games and the international community."

Two New York Democratic lawmakers, Eliot L. Engel and Nita M. Lowey, also requested Rogge to commemorate the anniversary of the slayings with respectful silence.

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Prince William, Kate Named 2012 Olympic Ambassadors

Chris Jackson/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton, can now add an Olympian-size title to their royal names. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been named official ambassadors to the 2012 Olympic Games, to be held in the couple’s hometown of London, royal officials announced Thursday.

“London hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will inspire so many people -- particularly the young -- to be the best they can be,” Prince William said in a statement released by St. James’s Palace.

Joining the newlyweds as an ambassador will be William’s brother, Prince Harry, who returned to England this week after spending two months in the U.S. for helicopter training exercises as a member of England’s Royal Air Force.

The three royals bring to 30 the total number of ambassadors named for the 2012 games. The 27 other 2012 ambassadors are British Olympians from previous games appointed by the British Olympic Association earlier this year.

The 2012 games will begin in London July 27 and end Aug. 12.

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London Olympics Security: 40,000 Officers, Surface-to-Air Missiles

The London 2012 Olympics countdown clock in Trafalgar Square. Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images(LONDON) -- U.S. and British officials will meet Tuesday in Washington to plan security for next summer's Olympic games in London, where the massive U.S. law enforcement presence will include more than 500 federal agents.

The 2012 Olympics, which begin on July 27 and run for 17 days, are expected to bring close to a million visitors to London. U.S. and U.K. security and terrorism officials told ABC News that thousands of police officers, soldiers, intelligence officers, firefighters and private guards -- a force that could at times top 40,0000 -- will be on hand at 32 sports venues to respond to everything from pickpockets to terror threats.

U.K. Defense Secretary Philip Hammond told Parliament Monday that security measures might even include surface-to-air missiles.

British officials have closely coordinated their efforts with their American counterparts, and the meetings that begin on Tuesday are only the latest in a series of high-level meetings stretching back more than a year, officials from the CIA, State Department, and FBI told ABC News.

A report in the U.K. paper The Guardian on Sunday claimed that British security officials were chafing at working so closely with the Americans, that they felt they were not "equal partners" with the U.S., and that the U.S., in turn, has expressed "repeated concerns" about British preparations and "deep unease" about limits on stop-and-search powers.

Senior British officials directly involved in the planning of Olympic security told ABC News that the Guardian's report "is inaccurate, and that the U.S. has expressed no such unease or concerns.

"Clearly the U.S. is a fundamental relationship and our Ministers are mindful of this, but the assertion that questions from the U.S. dominate is wrong," a spokesperson for the Olympic Security Directorate told ABC News Monday.  "We haven't had such concerns/questions voiced to us in the first place."

The Guardian also reports British security officials have raised private concerns about the U.S. need for "reassurance" and the size of the U.S. "footprint."  But British authorities told ABC News that they are not surprised by the size of the footprint or the U.S.' need to know details of the plan.

In recent weeks, according to both U.S. and British authorities in Washington, there has been an increased focus on the Olympic security package within the Obama administration, but U.S. concerns have not dominated the meetings.

The U.S. will bring a large security contingent to the games -- in excess of 500 officers and agents from the FBI and the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service, though no final numbers have been set.

The proposed U.S. presence is miniscule, however, when compared to the overall security scheme.  The U.K.'s current plans call for 20,000 private security guards, 5,000 British troops, including special forces, and the nation's two intelligence services, MI5 and MI6, to augment thousands of officers drawn as needed from Scotland Yard's 31,000-member force and major police departments outside of London.

Authorities had originally planned on 10,000 security guards, but after review now believe they will need up to 21,000.  The global security behemoth G4S will provide the initial group of guards, and officials there told ABC News that they would expect no great difficulty in vetting and training an additional number of guards.  It is not clear that the UK government will award them the final contract for an additional guard force.

On Monday, in a response to a question from a member of Parliament about security preparations for the Olympics, U.K. Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said, "I can assure [you] that all necessary measures to ensure the security and safety of the London Olympic Games will be taken including -- if the advice of the military is that it is required -- appropriate ground-to-air defenses."

Security planning for the 2012 Olympics began not long after they were awarded to London, which won the right to host the games after a competition against Madrid, Moscow, Paris and New York.  The decision was announced on July 6, 2005. The next morning, four suicide bombers attacked London's public transportation system, killing more than 50 people.

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London to Outfit Subway with WiFi for 2012 Games

Comstock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- The world's oldest subway system will be getting a high tech upgrade in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Organizers have decided to outfit "the tube,' as the subway system is referred to in London, with WiFi Internet access in 120 stations.

For most spectators, the quickest way to get to the various venues will be via subway. WiFi was tested in one station, and now officials are offering tenders to WiFi providers.

Internet access should be up-and-running for Londoners a few months before the games begin.

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