London makes a shaky start in Olympic image stakes

Negative headlines keep on coming as athletes pour into London for Games

LAST UPDATED AT 09:12 ON Tue 17 Jul 2012

THE OLYMPICS are only ten days away, but the excitement that accompanies the arrival of the competitors in London has not staunched the flow of negative headlines in Britain and beyond.
 
There were horror stories yesterday of travel chaos for athletes and officials while the security fiasco rolled on. As The Independent put it: "The host city began shakily in the most punishing 2012 event of all: the Olympic image hurdles."

  • Heathrow got off relatively lightly on day one. Although some 237,000 people came through the airport there were few delays at immigration. According to the Financial Times, the aiport "proved its mettle on Monday as it delivered hundreds of Olympians from gate to ground transport with speed and efficiency".
  • It didn’t go so smoothly on the roads. The dedicated Olympic lanes caused confusion on the roads not only for ordinary motorists but also for the official drivers," reported The Times. There were reports of 32-mile tailbacks on the M4.
  • Some coach drivers tasked with delivering athletes from Heathrow into London had never driven in the capital before. American hurdler Kerron Clement was on a coach that took four hours to travel the 25 miles to east London. "Um, so we've been lost on the road for 4hrs. Not a good first impression London," he wrote. "Athletes are sleepy, hungry and need to pee. Could we get to the Olympic Village please."
  • "All I needed was to travel to Mayfair and I had the Monopoly board covered," wrote Australian media liaison officer Daman Kelly in The Daily Telegraph of his journey to Stratford. He and around 30 other members of the Australian team waited two hours for a coach from Heathrow and then went on a magical mystery tour of London. "It wasn't until we headed down a one-way street about 90 minutes into the trip that we all started to get a little worried... The driver, a terrific and friendly guy from Dublin, declared he was lost – he didn’t how the GPS in his bus worked and, in any case, the Olympic Village wasn’t loaded on it."
  • The G4S secrity problems continued as it was revealed in The Guardian that "hundreds of police officers from nine forces across England have been drafted in to fill gaps in Olympic security after staff the company was meant to supply failed to turn up for work”. In Manchester, police were forced to fill in after only 17 of an expected 56 G4S staff turned up for work at an Olympic team hotel in Salford.
  • London's troubles have not gone unnoticed overseas. ABC News in America reported on "potential cracks in the $2 billion Olympic security plan" and cited a report that claimed "there are many new, hastily trained guards at the airport who sometimes do not question travellers as diligently as they should".
  • Der Spiegel in Germany said that British Marines were having to "cancel their holidays" to provide security at the Games after the failings of G4S and found it "humiliating". It added that there was anger at the "militarisation" of the Games.

 · 

Disqus - noscript

The negatives surrounding London 2012 are due largely to the media desperate for headlines, and the disgusting politicking by the Labur party. As a nation we really are the pits!

Not entirely true.......I doubt that the athletes arriving yesterday were inventing their impromptu sight-seeing tours of London's road network. As for G4S: my brother-in-law's supposedly been hired as a security worker - so far, he's had just two days of training/trials; had to go to London (from Newcastle) at his own expense to pick up his uniform and inexplicably be given a tour of the stadium and now he calls every day to find out where/when he's supposed to be working: either no one answers, or he's told they don't know yet.......possibly he was one of the workers who didn't turn up in Manchester yesterday, but as no one at G4S will give him a work schedule he has no idea. He's waiting, willing to work, with a uniform......

There were TWO coaches that ran late, all the others were on time but of course the media has to pick on the small failures rather than the wider success. I too am getting sick of hearing the media criticising the Olympics - this is where the public are getting their jaundiced view from. As for the motorway, as I understand it there were large signs saying exactly when the Olympic lane opened and have been for a while - its not the government's fault if drivers don't bother to observe signs on the motorway. G4S is a catastrophe admittedly but who chose them to run the games security? That's right, it was Labour when they were in government! The very party who made G4/S rich :oP

Hahaha - He's on his way to London tomorrow: employed to work at the stadium, but by an independent security company. So - G4S trained him and paid for his license and uniform, but because they can't decide where he's needed a subcontractor is paying him. Madness.

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.