London Marathon To Proceed; Other Global Events Add Security After Boston Bombing
U.K. Sports Minister Hugh Robertson remains "absolutely confident" Sunday's London Marathon can be kept safe and that the annual race around the streets of the capital should go ahead to "show solidarity with Boston," according to Robin Scott-Elliot of the London INDEPENDENT. Robertson said, "The best way for us to react is to push ahead with the marathon on Sunday, to get people on the streets and to celebrate it as we always do in London -- and to send a very clear message that we won't be cowered by this sort of behavior." Around 37,500 people, from elite athletes to fun runners, "will take part in Sunday's marathon with an estimated half a million spectators expected to watch the race" (INDEPENDENT, 4/16). In London, Gibson, Walker & Dodd reported police and London Marathon officials "are expected to have a series of discussions about security following the explosions in Boston." Scotland Yard is waiting for details to emerge from U.S. investigators, such as who is thought to be behind the blasts, as well as information about the bombs' construction and the types of explosives used, "which will help give clues about whether the perpetrator or perpetrators were inspired by al-Qaida ideology or other forms of extremism." London Mayor Boris Johnson said that he "was shocked by the events at the Boston Marathon," which is the world's oldest. Johnson: "The bombings in Boston are shocking, cowardly and horrific, and the thoughts of all Londoners this morning will be with the victims" (GUARDIAN, 4/16). The BBC reported Metropolitan Police Commander Christine Jones said that "security was being reviewed following two deadly explosions at the Boston Marathon." Jones said the public should be "reassured" the police were "very, very well-practised" at managing big events (BBC, 4/16).
ROYAL PRESENCE: In London, English, Infante & Duell wrote Prince Harry "will go ahead with a hugely public visit to the London Marathon despite the Boston atrocity, as security plans were tightened ahead of Sunday's event." Palace sources confirmed Tuesday morning that the third in line to the throne "has no plans to cancel the long-standing engagement despite increased security fears following the U.S. bombings." The prince is patron of the London Marathon Charitable Trust and "will make the presentations to the winners of the mini marathon, the elite men and women and the wheelchair IPC Athletic Marathon World Cup races." It is likely, however, "that the prince's team of bodyguards from Scotland Yard's crack SO14 diplomatic and royalty protection unit will be dramatically stepping up the security around him" (DAILY MAIL, 4/16).
HEARTS FOR BOSTON: In London, Owen Gibson wrote, "This weekend's London Marathon will feature tributes to those killed and injured at the Boston equivalent." Organizers "spent the day in meetings with the Metropolitan police as they reviewed and tightened security for the event." The London Marathon CEO Nick Bitel "is believed to have received offers of help and support from around the world, as a social media campaign urged runners to cross the finish line with their hand over their hearts in a show of solidarity with those in Boston" (GUARDIAN, 4/16).
SILENCE ON THE PITCH: In London, Dominic King wrote a one-minute silence will be held before Tuesday night's Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Everton "to mark the Boston Marathon bombings and 24th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster." The tribute had already been penciled in to honor the 96 lives lost at Hillsborough, "but the moment will now be extended to mark the tragic events in Boston" Monday, where at least three people were killed. Both sets of players "will also wear black armbands as will referee Neil Swarbrick and his officials" (DAILY MAIL, 4/16).
CHILLING EFFECT: In London, Giles Mole wrote Joel Laine, head of the Paris Marathon, which passed off peacefully earlier this month, fears that Monday's explosions at the Boston Marathon "will have a chilling effect on the London Marathon." Laine: "There will be without doubt a climate of suspicion for a good while surrounding these type of events. I am thinking notably of the London Marathon. I am thinking of the anxiety this will instill in the competitors and their families" (TELEGRAPH, 4/16).
RUSSIAN REACTION: REUTERS' Gennady Fyodorov wrote Russian authorities have promised tougher security measures at August's world athletics championships. Russia's athletics chief Valentin Balakhnichyov said, "The security arrangements will certainly be reviewed after what happened in Boston. Security has always been of the highest standard at all our sporting events but, no doubt, we will take into account the latest events and how it was done." Balakhnichyov said Moscow would have a "triple level of protection" for the Aug. 10-18 championships (REUTERS, 4/16). The BANGKOK POST reported Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said, "For Russia, which will have to soon stage a number of major sporting events, this is a serious warning bell." Besides the '14 event in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia "will also host the University Games in Kazan later this year, as well as the 2018 Football World Cup." The Sochi Games will be staged on the edge of the restless North Caucasus, "where Russia waged two post-Soviet wars in Chechnya, and where violence is prevalent in nearby Dagestan." Mutko said Russia was "very worried" about security at all the sporting events (BANGKOK POST, 4/16).
HEIGHTENED SECURITY: XINHUA reported the Madrid Marathon "will strengthen" security measures. The marathon, which will be celebrating its 36th edition as the city enters the closing straight of the race to be chosen as the host city for the 2020 Olympic Games, "is due to be held on Sunday, April 28 and over 20,000 athletes have already been inscribed with a total of 26,000 expected to participate." Madrid Marathon Dir Pedro Rumbao said, "As soon as we heard of the explosions in the Boston Marathon, we got into contact with the Madrid Town Hall" (XINHUA, 4/16). The AP reported Rio Olympic organizers "expressed their sadness after the deadly explosions and quickly moved to reiterate that security is 'a top priority' as the city prepares for the 2016 Games." The 2016 Olympic committee offered condolences to those affected by the explosions and said that "it is constantly working with the local government to guarantee the Games' safety." The committee said, "Security is always a top priority for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and we are working very closely with our government partners to deliver safe Games in 2016" (AP, 4/15).