Londoners are waking up this week knowing that they helped pull off a safe and secure Olympic Games.
Yet, the security outlook going into the Games was far from rosy.
Private security firm G4S threw a proverbial spanner into the works with fewer than 15 days to the Opening Ceremonies by saying they didn’t have enough guards to cover the various venues.
Then, on the eve of the Games, Mitt Romney suggested that London wasn’t ready, a remark that earned the Republican a sharp rebuke by London Mayor Boris Johnson and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Now the big show is over, without any major security issues reported.
Earlier this week Boris Johnson sang the praises of all the organizers – including those on difficult security details – in saying that Londoners will remember these past few weeks for the rest of their lives.
Likewise, British PM Cameron said London had hosted a “safe and secure” Games in thanking volunteers, the army and police for transforming the Games into what he said had been a successful global advertisement for Britain. Cameron also said that the 18,000 military personnel who helped with the Games will receive a special commemorative coin to mark the occasion.
The British military came out of the Olympics on a high note. They helped secure dozens of venues and hundreds of thousands of people, while keeping a cheerful tone to their work.
“We have had a great response from our spectators on the service provided by our armed forces and I want each and every one of you to know the nation is proud of you and grateful to you,” London 2012 chief Sebastian Coe told service personnel during a visit to one of their bases last Wednesday.
That’s not to overlook G4S, as they played a central part in keeping London safe over the last few weeks. And in what’s being called a “goodwill gesture”, G4S donated £2.5m to the armed forces the day after the Games ended.
According to a report this morning on the BBC, this donation will go to armed forces sports and welfare organizations. As a G4S spokesman said, “We wanted to recognize the huge contribution made by the military after it became clear that there would be shortfall in workforce delivery.”
The huge sense of pride and relief among Londoners and security personnel now extends into preparing for the Paralympics. They, like the Games that just ended, will likely set a new high bar for success on all fronts, including security.