Amidst all the excitement over Rio de Janeiro’s shiny new Summer Olympics and the upcoming Vancouver Winter Games, it’s easy to lose track of another upcoming Olympiad: the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Well, London would like to remind you that yes, the city and its Olympics still exist; moreover, everyone in that city could be dead before the closing ceremonies.
It’s a strange sentiment; after all, London beat out such heavyweights as Moscow, New York City, Madrid, and Paris for the right to host the games; thus, you’d think officials would be, I dunno, excited? Quite the opposite, though; as a matter of fact, British security minister Alan West (no, not him) seems to think they’re putting the country in grave danger. No, we’re not exaggerating; he’s now calling it “possibly the greatest security challenge the U.K. has faced since the Second World War.”
From CBS NEWS:
West told a London conference that the British capital will almost certainly be at a higher risk of a terrorist attack as an estimated 15,000 athletes, 14,000 coaches and officials and 20,000 media workers arrive for the games.
He said the country’s threat level will likely rise to severe - the second-highest rating on a five-point scale - meaning an attack is considered highly likely.
“We are not complacent. We do not underestimate the scale of the Olympics challenge,” West told the Royal United Services Institute think tank.
West, a former head of Britain’s navy and defense intelligence staff, said the event would be “possibly the greatest security challenge the U.K. has faced since the Second World War.”
Comparing the 2012 Olympics to World War II? Mr. West, you’re coming dangerously close to Godwinning the Olympic Games. We’ve really never seen that before.
In some perverse way, it makes sense. After all, when it comes time for setting budgets, which statement do you suppose will draw more attention and money?
A: “With the games three years away, it’s impossible to calculate the political climate at that point or what extant dangers we will face. Obviously security is our primary concern, but it’s important to allow the visiting athletes as much of a feeling of home as possible and to promote accessibility and peace. If in the years and months leading up to the Olympiad, we receive special and specific information about a possible attack, we will coordinate efforts across all relevant security forces to neutralize the threat with as much force as necessary. But for now, prudence is the key as we take the time to study the differences in threats that would be posed by various extremist organizations such as al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and the Tea Party Faction of the USA. We will monitor each terrorist group’s activity and plan our security accordingly.”
B: “WE ARE ALL ABOUT TO DIE.”
There you go.
Still, this smacks of out-and-out dishonesty. After all, you know what the one thing worse than potential terrorism is? Actual terrorism. And in case Mr. West has a short memory, it was just four years ago that London’s subway system was bombed, killing 56 people. Remember that?
If Mr. West’s statement is to be taken at face value, then, he fully expects a greater attack than that to be perpetrated on London’s populace and the visiting Olympians. And if that’s the case, then why even hold the Olympics? Seriously, why even bother? Why not pass them off onto Moscow or something? People aren’t mad at Moscow.
If Mr. West’s statements are not to be taken at face value, however, then he has no business making them in the first place; they’d be intentionally dishonest and a disservice to people who expect reliable information from government officials.
Look, we’re not going to pretend that terrorism doesn’t happen at the Olympics; the 1972 Munich disaster and the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta are proof of that. But that’s two, count ‘em, two instances of Olympic terrorism; further, one of them is going to be 40 years old by the time the London Games come around, while the other was a domestic Christianist terrorist; the UK probably doesn’t have the same problem as the US with those. It’s possible to be reasonable about the terrorist threat without sounding “soft” on it, and we hope Mr. West tries that instead of scaring Londoners for no good reason.