SBD/July 13, 2012/Olympics

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  • LOCOG Officials Try To Recover From Security Concerns, Mobilize U.K. Guards For Games

    G4S was to provide 13,700 guards, but only has 4,000 in place for the London Games

    The depth of the crisis over G4S' Olympic security preparations “became increasingly clear on Thursday as recruits revealed details of a ‘totally chaotic’ selection process,” according to Booth & Hopkins of the GUARDIAN. U.K. guards told “how, with 14 days to go until the Olympics opening ceremony, they had received no schedules, uniforms or training on x-ray machines.” G4S received a $439M (all figures U.S.) contract to “provide 13,700 guards, but only has 4,000 in place.” The private security firm said that “a further 9,000 are in the pipeline” (GUARDIAN, 7/13). In N.Y., John Burns notes alongside “cries of ‘shambles’ and ‘international embarrassment’ in the House of Commons, the government of Prime Minister David Cameron said it had issued an emergency draft for an additional 3,500 troops, many of them just returned from Afghanistan -- on top of 13,500 already committed for the Games -- after broken commitments” by G4S. The government will “now field a total military force of 17,000, who will outnumber civilian security details at Olympics venues by more than 2 to 1.” LOCOG organizers “point confidently to what they describe, despite the hiccup in the security plan, as the most thoroughly prepared peacetime endeavor in Britain’s history.” Still, the “muddle over security has been a serious setback.” The troop deployments “will join a diminished group of private security guards at 100 sporting venues and other sites associated with the Games, including hotels to be used by delegations from the 200 competing countries” (N.Y. TIMES, 7/13).

    PUTTING OUT THE FIRE: In London, Paul Kelso notes IOC President Jacques Rogge “attempted to play down the severity of the issues facing London, but acknowledged that athletes and officials should be braced for delays in the days leading up to the opening ceremony.” Asked if London’s planning was “falling at the final hurdle,” Rogge said: “No, definitely not. This is not peculiar to London, we have always had difficulties in the time leading up to the Games, this is something that does not worry us, it will be fine by the time of the opening ceremony.” He added, “We have been informed that the security will not be affected by this. It will have to be solved by LOCOG and the Government but we are very optimistic that all the provisions will be taken” (London TELEGRAPH, 7/13). Also in London, Magnay, Kirkup & Kelso cite confidential U.K. Home Office documents as indicating that G4S has “had its fee for managing civilian security staff for the Games rise” from $11.3M to $92.9M. The documents revealed that the fee the company takes for running its Olympic office “has risen more than 10 times faster than its spending on recruitment.” G4S on Thursday said that it “has so far trained and deployed only 4,000 of the 10,400 guards it is contracted to provide” (London TELEGRAPH, 7/13).

    LEAVING A MARK? The London TELEGRAPH’s Kelso writes the security issue is “the most serious of a raft of challenges that have assailed organisers in the last 24 hours.” LOCOG said that it “would be scrutinising the contract to assess whether penalties could be applied to claw back some of the money” (London TELEGRAPH, 7/13). INDEPENDENT TELEVISION NEWS’ Keir Simmons said, “If the aim was to avoid the Games looking like a military operation, there’s not much hope of that now. In places on the Olympic Park today soldiers were as much in evidence as G4S staff" ("NewsHour," PBS, 7/12). A FINANCIAL TIMES editorial states G4S “emerges from the story with little credit.” The company has had “plenty of time to find the 10,000 employees it contracted to supply,” and it is “amateurish to admit defeat on the eve of the games” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/13). But in London, Lucy Tobin writes the security issue will “hardly make a dent on G4S's bottom line.” The company's revenues hit $11.6B last year, with profits of $431.6M. A contract worth “a couple of hundred million was just pocket money, more about giving G4S a reason to shout about itself” (London INDEPENDENT, 7/13).

    MOBILIZING THE TROOPS: In London, Haynes, O’Connor, O’Neill & Ford report the U.K. Army is “searching for land to set up a military camp after being called in at the last minute to provide emergency security for the Olympic Games.” Sources said that Scotland Yard “became alarmed at G4S’s readiness for the Games when a senior officer, visiting the Olympic Park, encountered a uniformed G4S guard who neither spoke nor understood English” (LONDON TIMES, 7/13).

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  • Debate Over NBA's Involvement In Olympics Reignited After Blake Griffin's Injury

    Griffin should recover from torn meniscus in time for start of NBA season

    Clippers F Blake Griffin is not expected to miss the start of the NBA season after tearing the meniscus in his left knee, but he “will not be playing for the U.S. Olympic basketball team in London this summer,” according to Broderick Turner of the L.A. TIMES. USA Basketball Chair Jerry Colangelo on Thursday said that Griffin's injury “might have been related to the All-Star's being injured during the playoffs.” Turner notes Griffin had been “given a clean bill of health after he took a physical Tuesday in Los Angeles, before he signed his five-year, $95-million contract extension.” Meanwhile, Clippers G Chris Paul “sprained his right thumb during the first day of workouts with Team USA.” But Paul still “started for the U.S. on Thursday night against the Dominican Republic” (L.A. TIMES, 7/13). Griffin's injury has reignited the debate as to whether NBA players should compete in the Olympics. Comcast SportsNet New England's Donny Marshall noted Griffin on Tuesday signed a five-year, $95M extension with the Clippers, and while the team understands he wants to play for Team USA, the "longevity of this guy to that organization is much more important than a summer of basketball.” NBC Sports Network's Erik Kuselias said, “When you give someone $95 million dollars, their obligation is to you first.” Marshall: “Basketball is a business” (“NBC Sports Talk,” NBC Sports Network, 7/12). NBA.com's Sekou Smith notes concerns about players "staying healthy is no doubt going to be a hot topic among owners and players as summer league action heats up here and international exhibitions take place all over the globe." Team USA F LeBron James said, "That only comes up when somebody gets hurt. Honestly, you could get hurt doing anything" (NBA.com, 7/13).

    DOES RISK OUTWEIGH THE REWARD? and ESPN.com's J.A. Adande wrote the alliance between the NBA and USA Basketball "should go on, even if more players get hurt." Adande: "If you want great teams, they need the chance to develop into exactly that: a team. That means they'll have to take chances on injuries." No players on previous U.S. teams "have suffered injuries under USA Basketball's watch in the past." Colangelo said, "Somebody has to put some value on what USA Basketball has done for the NBA. I think the players are better people for participating, they end up being better players for the experience, they've brought more value to their franchises and it's been great for the NBA" (ESPN.com, 7/12). But ESPN’s Skip Bayless said Griffin's injury is "another painful, yet glaring, example of why it pains me time after time to see NBA stars risk injury and risk wear and tear that could lead to more injury next NBA season just to prove once again we have the greatest basketball players in the world." NBA team owners quietly "seethe over this because they are paying hundreds of millions of guaranteed dollars to players who spend ridiculous chunks of their offseason to go prove yet again that the good ol’ U.S. of A can dominate world basketball.” ESPN’s Rob Parker said of USA Basketball using NBAers, “The thrill is gone. Even with the little taste we got last night against the Dominican Republic, it’s a waste of time. I’m like, ‘Are you serious? Do we really have to have this?’ … What are we trying to prove here? … It not only hampers the players, but also them moving forward and them playing in the pros as far as risk of injury” (“First Take,” ESPN2, 7/13).
     
    TEAM AMERICA, WORLD POLICE: Colangelo appeared on ESPN's coverage of the Dominican Republic-U.S. exhibition game Thursday night and said, "We’re getting our feet wet a little bit and we need this. We needed some competition.” ESPN's Mark Jones said Colangelo has been able to "make it almost in vogue that players want to participate in USA Basketball.” Colangelo: “It was basically a situation where I expressed my passion and the reason I was interested in doing it. I wanted commitments from people who wanted to be a part of changing the culture, and they bought into it and it's been pretty good.” Jones asked, “Is there a next level for USA Basketball?” Colangelo said, “That remains to be seen. There’s speculation and talk about age limits for the Olympics. That’s a long way from being a done deal. ... Right now, we have a great program. I will tell you what makes me feel good: All of our junior teams are Gold Medalists. The pipeline is absolutely full. These are all the future college stars and the future NBA stars. When you have this kind of a system going, I’d hate to tinker with it” (“Dominican Republic-U.S.,” ESPN, 7/12).

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