23 May 2012, 19:05

Combat aircraft to fly over London during 2012 Olympics

Combat aircraft to fly over London during 2012 Olympics
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During the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, London airspace will be controlled by the Ministry of Defense for the first time since the Second World War to prevent terrorist attacks.

During the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, London airspace will be controlled by the Ministry of Defense for the first time since the Second World War to prevent terrorist attacks.

According to The Times newspaper, the Ministry of Defense will control most of the airspace over the South East, and fighter jets will be stationed near a Heathrow airport for the duration of the London Games. The Ministry of Defense also plans to use Rapier missiles, mobile ground radar systems and the Navy to respond to potential terrorist threats. Civilian air traffic controllers, however, will continue to guide jets carrying the extra 500,000 visitors expected during the Games into London airports.

Contributing to security during the Games will be 12.500 police officers and 23.500 employees from the global security services company G4S headquartered in the UK. The government allocated almost one billion pounds for Olympic security-related issues,  in what our political commentator says resembles preparations for a full-fledged military operation.

It appears that the organizers want spectators to perceive the London Games as large-scale war games rather than a sports event. British authorities, for their part, stress the necessity of containing possible terrorist attacks during the Games which they say may also see a spate of cyber attacks. Critics say that tight security is almost certain to tarnish the friendly atmosphere of the Games, something that is out of line with the Games’ spirit. Isabella Sankey, of the civil rights group, said, for her part, that the organizers will refer to potential terrorist threats during the Games to justify their tightening screws on security.

Britain has announced in advance that the terror threat level will be shifted from “substantial” to “severe” during the London Olympics, in a move that makes analysts wonder whether it is in line with modern-day reality.

Some experts warn against underestimating the problem, referring to permanent threats by Islamic extremists to stage a series of terror attacks in Britain and beyond during the London Games.

The experts single out a deadly hostage-taking during the Summer Olympics in Munich in 1972, when Palestinian terrorists killed eleven Israeli athletes and coaches and a West German police officer. In any case, our commentator says, British authorities should avoid overdramatizing the situation ahead of the London Games so that athletes can only focus on the competitions.

In a separate development earlier this month, the UK’s largest trade union threatened to sabotage the London Olympics in a show of protest against austerity measures the government is currently dealing with. Unite Secretary General Len McCluskey said in an interview with the Guardian newspaper that holding the Games at a time when the government is mulling austerity measures and public servants’ pay cuts  is absolutely irrelevant.

It is only to be hoped, our commentator concludes, that the British government will think twice before spending a whopping one billion pounds on the London Olympics. All the more so that part of this sum could be allocated for the resolution of pressing economics issues in Britain…

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