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  • Op Ed: New Security Worries for London


    A casual conversation in Guatemala Thursday with an acquaintance familiar with the workings of the Olympics turned to security at the Games - and at next month's Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, where 13 died this week in a police assault against favela drug lords.

    Despite the blood spilled in Brazil, my friend said he'd rather take the chance of staying safe in Rio during the Pan Am Games than in London during the Olympics.

    Friday morning dawned with news that made those comments eerily prescient. Once again, London appears to be the target of terrorist ways, with the discovery of a car bomb that could have caused mayhem in the West End.

    It is too soon to know who the culprits might be, of what persuasion or motive they are following. But it is clear from this foiled attack and the carnage that resulted from the July 7 attacks two years ago, that terrorists want to strike London as savagely as possible, and probably again.

    London Olympic organizers and Scotland Yard, which leads the security effort for 2012, know that they can deliver a reliably safe experience inside the venues of the Games, as have organizers of every Olympics since Munich.

    The notable exception came in 1996 when a bomb in a backpack exploded in Centennial Olympic Park. Until that incident, the park was a free-flowing, unsecured oasis in the midst of Olympic venues in downtown Atlanta. Since the Atlanta attack, security of such gathering places has been a key issue. Athens abandoned plans for one in 2004 over security concerns.

    But in London, with so many places where crowds naturally gather already, the threat of trouble in public places must now go to the top of the list for security planners. That could mean killjoy rules and regulations along with a substantial police presence. But at the risk of losing spectators over fears for safety, Olympic security will mean building public confidence now, not just during 17 days in July 2012.

    Op Ed is a weekly column of opinion and ideas from Around the Rings founder and editor-in-chief Ed Hula. Comments, as well as guest columns are welcomed: