THE first competitors were due to take up residence in the Athletes’ Village for the London Olympics today, after the security of the event was called into question.
The first of the Olympics Games Lanes was also to come into operation today on the recently repaired M4 motorway, hours after the Government refused to rule out the prospect of drafting in more troops in the wake of the G4S security fiasco.
With less than two weeks until the opening ceremony, ministers insisted the London 2012 Olympic Games would be secure and dismissed the firm’s failure to provide the promised 10,000 security guards as no more than a “hitch”.
Yesterday, however, it emerged that they had been warned 10 months ago in a confidential report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) about concerns over security.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt defended G4S suggesting it was “completely normal” for firms to break their contractual commitments on large projects.
“G4S have been quite honourable. They have put their hands up. Nick Buckles, the chief executive, has said they got it wrong, they have apologised, they are going to cover all the costs, he has apologised to the troops who are going to be drafted in,” he said.
“I think it is completely normal that you are going to find some contractors on a project of this size who aren’t able to deliver what they have promised.”
But pressed on whether the 3,500 troops who have been brought in to make up the shortfall would be sufficient, he said: “We have contingency plans for all eventualities.”
London 2012 chairman Lord Coe denied security had been compromised and appeared to lay blame for the problems with the staff hired by G4S.
He said: “The reality is, when they expected people to materialise, they simply didn’t. That is why we moved quickly to stem that gap.”
G4S chief Mr Buckles, who is due before the Commons Home Affairs Committee tomorrow, has admitted he may be forced to quit his £830,000-a-year job in the wake of the Olympic debacle.