Skift Take

There's a certain fascination that comes from watching something unravel and makes for particularly good newspaper reading, but London's challenges over the next few weeks are more about poor leadership than a loudmouth press.

Source: The Guardian
Authors: Ben Quinn and Kate Connolly

At a time when Olympic organisers and the government will have been hoping to present a sparkling image of Britain on the international stage, the controversy surrounding security at the games has not gone unnoticed by the world’s media.

“Security at the Olympic games in London: chaotic management,” was the headline in one report by the French daily Le Monde about the fallout from the deployment of 3,500 extra troops to make up for the failure of G4S to meet its contractual obligations.

The respected French business journal Les Echosalso picked up on the story, observing that “what was supposed to have been a shop window for the British company is in fact turning into a fiasco”.

It suggested that G4S would have trouble using the Olympics to win similar contracts for the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, reporting that press coverage in the UK about the company’s practices were “extremely embarrassing”.

In Germany, Der Spiegel magazine described the revelation by G4S that it would fall short in terms of its commitments as an “embarrassing admission at the 11th hour”.

“British marines are having to call off their holidays to act as pocket friskers and find the idea humiliating,” it added.

“There’s now much discussion in the UK as to whether the outsourcing of security duties to a private company was such a good idea after all. Because at the end of the day it’s the state that has to jump in to save the situation.

The prospect of having to do service on the home front is causing discontent within the military. Not only are thousands of soldiers having to cut short their holidays, it’s considered nothing if not belittling that soldiers with experience of war are having to carry out bog-standard security controls.”

On the other side of the Atlantic, US media outlets made widespread use of Associated Press news agency copy which reported that “blame has started to fly” in London and mentioned last weekend’s Observer story about frontline officials at Heathrow claiming that terror suspects on the Home Office watch list are entering the UK in the runup to the Olympics without the necessary security checks.

ABC News followed up on the story, reporting: “Government officials told ABC News that report was not accurate, but said an independent auditor had claimed there are many new, hastily-trained guards at the airport who sometimes do not question travellers as diligently as they should.”

Down under, Australian media outlets carried sydicated reports from the UK, but the independent news website Crikey carried a report suggesting that David Cameron’s government had earned “a gold medal in incompetence”.

Referring to the controversy over the siting of missile launching systems at locations around London, the report also managed a swipe at Australia’s arts funding and advisory body, adding: “Still, whatever goes wrong, we still have the surface-to-air missiles on the roof. The building they’re located in houses the Australia Council’s London studio — so, at last, something launched from there will have an impact.”


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Tags: london, olympics

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