London 2012: Torch relay security won’t be ramped up

London 2012 chief says organisers won't resort to heavy-handed security tactics to protect the Olympic torch relay from protests

Sportsbeat
By Sportsbeat
Paul Deighton
London 2012 chief executive Paul Deighton Photo: The Sport Review

Paul Deighton

London 2012 chief executive Paul Deighton claims organisers will not resort to heavy-handed security tactics to protect the progress of the Olympic torch relay from protests.

Trenton Oldfield, the self-styled anti-elitist campaigner who disrupted last weekend’s University Boat Race, has called for others to target Olympic events, such as the torch relay, marathon and cycling road race, in a bid to promote their respective causes.

But Deighton claims there will be no repeat of the strong security presence that surrounded the Olympic flame when it visited London ahead of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, with spectators claiming they couldn’t see the torch because its protective entourage was so big.

“We are not going to ruin the enjoyment through the over-policing any event because we are not intimidated by the fear of somebody wanting to get attention for a cause,” said Deighton, who was speaking at the graduation ceremony of London 2012’s Young Leaders Programme, an initiative backed by Locog sponsors BP that rewards youngsters who make a contribution in their community.

“As you saw from the reaction to the protest at the Boat Race, people in this country don’t want the enjoyment of millions to be spoilt by one idiot.

“Another thing about the torch relay is the torchbearers have been nominated as local heroes of their community, so nobody in that local area will be interested in spoiling their moment to shine by doing something stupid.

“The whole nation will be watching and we have taken all the necessary precautions but we have to balance that with peoples’ enjoyment.”

Jonathan Edwards, who won Olympic triple jump gold in 2000 and is a key part of Locog’s nations and regions team, also expressed full confidence that security, while necessarily tough, would also have a light touch.

Although he claimed Oldfield’s Boat Race stunt served as a warning about the threat of attention-seekers to the progress of the 8,000 runner, 8,000 mile relay, which starts its 70-day journey next month.

“I have worked very closely with assistant commissioner Chris Allison who is heading the police operation and the Home Office and I am very confident with what they have achieved,” he said.

“I think the one thing we do very well in this country is to have very good security but not in a hugely overbearing way. I am very pleased with the Met team that will be guarding the torch, I have absolute confidence in their ability to do a great job but to also do it discreetly.

“Clearly safety and security is top of the agenda and we want to make sure that events are conducted in a safe manner, without jeopardising the enjoyment for those at the event.

“I am confident we will police the situation in an appropriate fashion.”

Deighton, Edwards and Locog chairman Seb Coe talked about their Olympic experiences with young people from Aberdeen, Hull and London, who were celebrating the conclusion of their two-year involvement in the Young Leaders Programme, with all graduating to key roles as volunteers this summer.

The programme, supported by BP, has seen them complete a mentoring programme designed to improve their inter-personal, communication and leadership skills.

© Sportsbeat 2012

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