The Washington Post

2012 London Olympics needs thousands of UK soldiers for security

With a very real threat of terrorist attacks hanging over the 2012 London Olympics, organizers are looking to bolster security with the help of the British army. (Tom Hevezi/AP)

According to a U.K. official, discussions are underway with the Ministry of Defense to add as many as 6,000 British soldiers to 10,000 contracted security guards already slated to help patrol the games.

In a statement, Britain’s Home Office said the government, Olympic organizing committee and their contracted security company are working to make “the best and most appropriate use of available resources.”

Meantime, Britain’s military has requested that any troops used for Olympics security be paid from Britain’s budget for the games. To this point, Britain has protected its 600 million-pound ($965 million) security budget from budget deficit cuts, but doubling the number of security personnel could raise serious financial problems.

“The planning was done a few years ago,” the U.K. official told the Associated Press, who said the security threat at the games was “underestimated” when it came to looking at the “devil of the detail.”

After 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were killed at the 1972 Summer Games in Munich, Olympic organizers ramped up security across the board. But London has been a target for terrorism in recent years — most notably in 2005 when 52 died in a commuter train suicide bombing — and officials will take full precaution ensuring the safety of athletes, fans and the general public. The British government is planning for the national terror threat to be “severe” during the games.

But Britain doesn’t want a military presence to turn the festivities into a lockdown camp, so soldiers will likely be used in background roles.

“The Ministry of Defence have been fully involved in supporting Olympic security planning work,” a government spokesman said in a statement on Friday.

“We are committed to delivery a safe and secure Games that London, the UK and the world can enjoy.”

Matt Brooks is the high school sports editor for The Washington Post. He's an Arlington native and longtime District resident and was previously a high school sports reporter, editor for several blogs and Early Lead contributor with The Post.

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