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Olympic test events go ahead despite riots
The Olympic test events have not been disrupted by riots with officials reassuring public of London's security plans.
Last Modified: 09 Aug 2011 15:39
The unique setting for the Olympic Games volleyball competition hosted a test event this week [GALLO/GETTY] 

As the capital reeled from three days of rioting and looting, Olympic organisers sought to maintain a business-as-usual attitude on Tuesday, going ahead with a series of events to prepare for the 2012 Games that London will be hosting a year from now.

A women's beach volleyball tournament began as scheduled at Horse Guards Parade, with players in bikinis competing on a specially made sand court a short distance from Prime Minister David Cameron's 10 Downing Street residence.

But organisers decided to use two courts instead of one for Tuesday's 12 matches so that play could finish 90 minutes early, allowing spectators and staff to leave before dark.

FIVB Beach Volleyball Director Angelo Squeo consulted with high-ranking London Olympic organisers and police before taking the decision.

Squeo, who was on site during the Olympic Park bombing at the 1996 Atlanta Games, told Associated Press he "will do whatever to not even risk putting in danger anybody here."

The competition, which runs through Sunday, is a test event for the Olympic tournament that will be played at the same iconic venue next year.

Other scheduled test events this week include a cycling road race that will go through the streets of London on Sunday and a marathon swimming competition at Hyde Park on Saturday. The world badminton championship are taking place at the Olympic venue of Wembley Arena in north London.

London violence

A wave of violence and looting has raged across London, as authorities struggled to contain the country's worst unrest since race riots set the capital ablaze in the 1980s. More than 400 arrests have been made so far.

The image of the host city has been tarnished by the images broadcast around the world of buildings and vehicles in flames and looters running amok.

"A lot of detailed work has taken place regarding security plans for the games and we will continue to review them together with the Met Police and the Home Office over the coming year," LOCOG, the local organising committee, said in a statement.

Olympic security officials said they are confident of their plans and have already taken public disorder into account as a potential risk.

"Obviously, in light of the appalling events in London over recent days, we will review our planning to ensure that any lessons are identified," said Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison, the national Olympic security coordinator.

       Major Boris Johnson is "ashamed" by the violence that has marred London ahead of the games [GETTY] 

"But first, we must fully establish the circumstances of what has happened and at this time it is too early to say whether our planning will significantly change.

"What is absolutely clear is that we are committed to the games being delivered in safety and security, for athletes, spectators and the wider public."

Mayor Boris Johnson said he felt "ashamed" at the violence and the damage to London's image around the world.

"In less than 12 months we will welcome the world to a great summer games in the greatest city on earth - and by then we must all hope that we will look back on these events as a bad dream," he said in a column in the London Evening Standard.

"It can be done. But it will be hard, and we will have our work cut out."

The volleyball court was bathed in bright sunshine for the start of the 24-team tournament. The stands, which will be boosted from their current 1,500 capacity to 15,000 for the Olympics, were about half full for the opening three matches.

"You'll have incidents anywhere you are in the world," U.S. player Brittany Hochevar said after a win over a Chinese team.

"If you're in a big city, this could happen anywhere in the world, so this doesn't change my perception of London for 2012 or give me concern for the Olympics. That's the world."

British Olympic Association spokesman Darryl Seibel expressed confidence the games would pass off safely.

"It makes an Olympic Games and a Paralympic Games all the more important,'' he said on Sky TV.

"We need a reason to come together. What better city to do it in than London. This is not a reflection of London, this is a reflection of the world we live in today"

British Olympic Association spokesman Darryl Seibel

"We need a reason to come together. What better city to do it in than London. This is not a reflection of London, this is a reflection of the world we live in today."

Across town, in the Canary Wharf business district, top International Olympic Committee officials huddled with LOCOG leaders for a regularly scheduled "project review" of preparations for the games.

LOCOG chairman Sebastian Coe and his team were meeting with a delegation led by Denis Oswald, the IOC executive board member who heads the coordination commission for the games.

The IOC reiterated its confidence in security planning for London.

"Security at the Olympic Games is a top priority for the IOC,'' said spokesman Mark Adams. 

"While we are not responsible for security, we're happy with how local organisers are dealing with the issue and we are confident they will do a good job."

Source:
AP
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