Social Science blog

17 May 2011

Safety in numbers

As widely reported in the media, last week saw a three-day exercise by security teams at the athletes’ village in the Olympic Park: part of a “robust testing and exercising programme” according to a spokesman from the Metropolitan Police.

 When the London Games start in 2012 it will be exactly 40 years since Israeli athletes were taken hostage by terrorists at the Munich Olympics. This event, which was just one of a number of terrorist attacks mounted across the world by various dissident groups in the 1970s, taught the world a tragic lesson about the way in which mega events like the Olympic Games would have to be policed in the future. So much so that in April this year, the Telegraph reported that the IOC had managed to secure a £62,000,100 insurance policy ‘to cover terrorism or acts of war which may impact on the London 2012 Olympic Games’.

 Clearly, what makes the Olympics a great opportunity for the marketing managers of big corporations - huge crowds, complex logistics, global publicity - makes them equally attractive to anyone else with an axe to grind; so whereas in the past it was the vast costs of the infrastructure which had to be taken into account, host cities now have to ask themselves whether they really want to go down that controversial, emotionally charged and financially crippling road of keeping everyone safe.

 Ideas about the security of the Games particularly resonate with Londoners because the 2005 July 7th bombings took place the day after it was announced that the 2012 Olympics had been awarded to their city. What was strongly felt on 7/7 was that life had to go on as usual; and the staging of mega events is all part of the same process. London 2012 will be symbolic in that way too.

 A fascinating recent publication by Pete Fussey, Jon Coaffee, Gary Armstrong and Dick Hobbs looks at all these issues. Details below:


 Pete Fussey et al Securing and sustaining the Olympic city

Farnham: Ashgate, 2011

London reference collections shelfmark: SPIS 796.480684

Lending collections shelfmark: m11/.14289

 London 2012: Olympic and Paralympic safety and security strategy. [London?: COI on behalf of the Home Office], 2011.)

Lending collections shelfmark: m11/.13744

 Reeve, Simon. One day in September: the story of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre and Israeli revenge operation 'Wrath of God'  London : Faber, 2005.

London reference collections shelfmark:YK.2010.a.2759



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