London riots: Painful lessons well learnt ahead of London 2012- Mitchell
Organisers of the London Olympics 2012 say last year's London riots which claimed at least five lives- bad as it was- is good experience for the city ready to host the world in the most quintessential sporting activity- Olympic games.
The Director of Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the London 2012, Andrew Mitchell told a delegation of international journalists, Monday, the London riots offered a great challenge to policing but was quick to add it provided “additional learning” for London security which has a long history of managing protests.
A peaceful protest against the police's fatal shooting of a 29 year old Mark Duggan on August 6, 2011, turned violent with several shops looted and arson attacks by youths in the city. Four days of criminality, looting and unprecedented attacks which was replicated in several cities led to at least 13 other injuries and an estimated £200 million worth of property being damaged.
But the city has gotten over the skirmishes and looks ahead towards a promising festival of games.
Buoyed by its rich history of successful organization of the Commonwealth games and other high profile events Mitchell assured of absolute security before during and after the 3 week event.
He said an estimated number of 130 World leaders and their entourage are expected to be present at the opening ceremony of the London 2012, with four billion more watching the games live on TV.
Andrew Mitchell was less fascinated about the cost of building the infrastructure for the London Olympics- £9.3 billion- than he was about the legacy the games will live to posterity.
Already, the blot of East London, notorious for its slum dwellers and a not too pleasant River Lea with its remnants have given way to an imposing edifice of an Olympic Stadium; a magnificent orbit overlooking the stadium and thousands of apartment to be used by the athletes and later given out as part of a social housing policy to the low and middle class.
The Chair of LOCOG's Nations and Regions Group, responsible for bringing about the UK-wide benefits of the Games Sir Charles Allan, who took his turn to brief the journalists, said 40 per cent of the apartments have been allotted to the low income earners with the 60 per cent to be sold out.
Contrary to previous experiences where only the host city is often said to be the only beneficiary of the games, Allan said the London Olympics is “everyone's games.”
He said it will create economic, social and sporting benefits not just to cities in the United Kingdom but other countries affiliated to the Olympic committee.
According to him, the tourism benefits before and after the games have been estimated at £2.1 billion; £7 billion pounds in contracts have been awarded to British companies and an estimated 40,000 jobs have been created.
He said 95 per cent of populace will be directly affected by the event.
Organisers say except some few cabling systems, all is set for the magnificent showpiece in London.
Journalists from Ghana, Serbia, Dubai, China, Spain, Russia, Taiwan were part of delegation of international journalists to make the final tour of the Olympics games construction site prior to its closure until the games begin in July 27.
The journalists were taken through the games village and shown some of the incredible architecture for the event.