SBD/July 19, 2012/Olympics

From Security To Strikes To Water, Issues Still Plague London

U.K. said it will "go after" G4S to help cover cost of bringing in military personnel
The U.K. Parliament's Commons Public Accounts Committee in a published report yesterday said that there "was 'no credible explanation' for the sharp increase in fees" in security firm G4S's contract to provide Olympic venue guards, according to Hopkins, Gibson & Syal of the GUARDIAN. One member of Parliament sarcastically said, "The first winner of an Olympic gold is G4S.” G4S agreed in December to provide 10,000 guards for the venues, rather than the 2,000 originally asked for, "increasing the value of the contract by almost" $312.7M (all figures U.S.) to $444M. This included $129.8M to “cover labour, and a 12-fold increase in management costs,” from $15.6M to $195.4M. G4S also “secured a 22-fold increase to cover uniforms,” from $4.7M to $101.6M. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said, “We will go after them for the money to make sure that they help pay for the military personnel that have been brought in.” U.K. Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said that the government was also “looking at reducing G4S's management fee by invoking penalty clauses” (GUARDIAN, 7/19).

LOCOG SHOULD ALSO BE BLAMED? A FINANCIAL TIMES editorial opines that LOCOG's role in the G4S issue shouldn't be overlooked, stating, “In many ways, LOCOG has done a commendable job in the way it has pulled together the games. But the security fiasco has been a serious blot on its copybook. It should have stepped in sooner, when it was becoming clear that G4S was struggling to fulfil its contract to supply the guards.” The editorial also questions LOCOG's structure, as there may have been "good reasons to make LOCOG a private company, even though it was part of a largely taxpaper-funded project,” but this “shielded it from oversight and prevented transparency about its operations” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/19).

NO-SHOWS: Despite the deployment of an additional 3,500 British soldiers and London police yesterday were “forced to guard the Olympic venue at Lord's cricket ground because G4S guards failed to show up” (GUARDIAN, 7/18).

STRIKING OUT: Cameron “condemned a planned strike by border staff that is threatening to disrupt travel arrangements for the Olympics.” Cameron said that he “hoped the strike would not go ahead but insisted the Olympics would be safe and secure regardless” (GUARDIAN, 7/19)....A "further bus strike during the Olympics was averted after workers voted to accept a bonus payment” for full-time employees (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 7/18).

NO WATER? LOCOG “denied there was any ongoing issue with the water in the Olympic Village, after the supply to cafes in the communal area was interrupted.” The cafe in the shopping area of the village “unexpectedly shut its doors for several hours after problems with the water supply” (GUARDIAN, 7/19).

AND OVERALL? In London, Richard Alleyne writes under the header, “Another Difficult Day On The Roads And Rail As Olympics Approach: Traffic Problems Continued To Dog The Capital In The Run Up To The Olympics” (London TELEGRAPH, 7/19). In Miami, Michelle Kauffman writes the Opening Ceremony is “eight days away, and can’t get here soon enough.” Then, "and only then, will we stop reading about how awful things are going to be.” The “hand-wringing is getting tiresome” (MIAMI HERALD, 7/19).
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