Boston Marathon Bombings: London Marathon To Review Security As Event Approaches
Organizers of Sunday's Virgin London Marathon and police officers this week will "conduct a review of the security arrangements that will be put in place" for the race, with "effective communications and a swift decision-making structure ... likely to be central to the discussions," according to Simon Hart of the London TELEGRAPH. The pre-race course inspection also is “likely to be scaled up, with extra sniffer dogs and manpower being deployed in the early hours of Sunday, while additional police officers could be drafted in to provide additional protection once the race gets under way.” Race organizers “can change the route of the course at a moment’s notice if threatened with a Boston-style attack.” Organizers yesterday indicated that they "had full confidence in the security operation.” Securing the marathon route used during the ’12 London Games was “easier because it was contained within an eight-mile circuit in the centre of the capital, while the start and finish areas ... were restricted to ticket-holders and protected by airport-style screening.” However, the London Marathon “follows a twisting but linear route from Blackheath to central London, snaking through swathes of south-east London before crossing the Thames and heading east to the Isle of Dogs and then returning to the centre of the capital.” The course offers “countless potential hiding places to conceal explosive devices” (London TELEGRAPH, 4/17). The GUARDIAN’s Owen Gibson reports race organizers “spent the day in meetings with the Metropolitan police as they reviewed and tightened security for the event, which will feature 37,500 runners.” London Marathon CEO Nick Bitel is “believed to have received offers of help and support from around the world.” U.K. Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said that the government was "'absolutely confident’ that the event could be kept safe and secure” (GUARDIAN, 4/17).
HONORING BOSTON: USA TODAY’s Gary Mihoces reports runners in the London Marathon are “being asked to cross the finish line with their hands over their hearts.” Organizers are “encouraging runners to wear a black ribbon along with their race number” (USA TODAY, 4/17). Organizers said in a statement that there will be a “period of silence lasting 30 seconds” before the start of the race “to mark the ‘tragic events’ in Boston” (REUTERS, 4/16). Meanwhile, U.K. Athletics Chair Ed Warner said that there was “no indication that any British athletes would pull out as a result of the Boston bombs.” Ricky Simms, who reps Gold Medal-winning runner Mo Farah, confirmed that Farah would “definitely run” in the marathon and has “no plans to change his security arrangements or schedule.” The GUARDIAN’s Gibson & Riach note “none of the elite athletes who raced in Boston, all of whom were back in their hotel when the bombs exploded, is in the field in London.” But two-thirds of those “who competed in the elite wheelchair race are now flying to London to race again” (GUARDIAN, 4/17).
OTHER WEEKEND RACES PREPARE: USA TODAY’s Kelly Whiteside reports “just about 8,000 people are expected to run a 4-mile race in Central Park this weekend to benefit the city's parks.” NYRR President & CEO Mary Wittenberg said that there would be “increased security” for the race. A new stipulation requires runners "to use clear bags, instead of their own backpacks, to store their gear" (USA TODAY, 4/17). Meanwhile, Salt Lake City Marathon Dir Steve Bingham said no one has withdrawn from Saturday's event. Bingham is “encouraging athletes to bring only necessary items in their gear bags” and is asking fans "to leave bags and backpacks at home” (DESERET NEWS, 4/17).