Adebiyi Openiyi and Cathy Bollaert
When the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued security warnings against potential terrorist attacks, ticket scams and ramped street crime – to name but a few - to British fans heading to South Africa for the World Cup Football competition in 2010, many in the country were aghast as those security concerns were for many South Africans grossly exaggerated. The nanny-state it seemed was over-stretching its bounds, the result of which led to a lower turnout of British fans compared to other countries. However, by the end of the competition, despite such afro-pessimistic sentiments, there were no terrorist attacks and nobody got stabbed as had been predicted. In fact, the World Cup Football went ahead with very little incident!
Now with the Olympics Games currently in progress in London, in the interests of equality, it is only just that one stop to reflect on the former judgements made by the pompous British media and see if the UK is able to do better. Based on a very brief scan of what happened in the run up to the Games – it would appear not!
Firstly, one should take note of the staffing issues that took place in the UK Border Agency (UKBA). A security warning would have been well served for the potential security breaches that could have gone undetected as a result. To compound matters, thousands of Home Office staff, including UKBA agency workers called a strike in the run up to the Olympics. Moreover, the dispute over job cuts, salaries and privatisation also involved staff at the Identity and Passport Service and the Criminal Records Bureau. For a nation that has already experienced one terrorist attack – this is disconcerting to say the least!
Secondly, there were serious problems over London’s ability to provide adequate security and security personnel for the duration of the Games. In the end, due to such inadequacies, the British government had to draft in more than 3000 troops to boost security conjuring up images of London turning into a mini Baghdad!
Such are the concerns of sport fans that many decided to steer clear of the British Isles this summer. One Jamaican who wanted to see Hussein Bolt compete at the Olympics said, ‘I am not convinced really about the security in London, even though I already made my booking, the situation is not encouraging’. Many visitors to the UK have to factor in the memory of the7/11 bombings in London and are aware of the fact that many of the suspects apprehended in the War on Terror have come from the British Isles. Not to mention, trite as it may appear, Britain is home to the most notorious football hooligans in the world.
So, instead of pointing pompous fingers of judgment to other nations England would do well to first look at its own imperfections and short-comings! Whilst we can all breathe a sigh of relief that there have been no major security breaches during London 2012 – be reminded that despite the afro-pessimism surrounding South Africa’s ability to organise the World Cup securely and efficiently, at least they did not confuse the flags of one nation with another!