LONDON (Reuters) - The London Olympics will not become known as the “Queuing Games” with extra staff and technology being employed to keep people moving through tight security checks, a British interior minister said on Wednesday.
Security will be no more obtrusive than at other Olympics, the policeman in charge of coordinating the country’s biggest peacetime security operation added.
The long lines of visitors forced to wait sometimes up to two hours at Britain’s airport border controls, filmed on mobile phones by frustrated travellers, has caused anxiety in the run-up to the Games which start on July 27.
Once beyond the airport, sports fans will still have to endure crammed journeys to stadiums on a creaking public transport system and strict security at venues.
“I don’t think this will be seen as a queuing Games at all,” James Brokenshire, minister for crime and security at the interior ministry, told Reuters.
“There is security, we do have a focus on safety, but we don’t want it to be obtrusive.”
Hundreds of trained uniformed staff will operate at airports and ports, with every booth to be manned at key times, while flexible mobile teams have been installed to cope with unexpected queues, he said.
At the stadiums, sports fans should not have to wait more than 20 minutes to go through airport-style security at peak times with little queuing the rest of the time.
Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison, national Olympic security coordinator, said the safety measures were “part of modern living”.
“It’s exactly the same as at Vancouver (the winter Olympics in 2010),” he told reporters.
“It’s the same as has been seen everywhere else. It’s what people are used to, I don’t think it will be seen by anybody as oppressive at all.”
The threat from militant Islamists endures in Britain, seven years after suicide bombers killed 52 people in London.
Allison said police would also learn from this weekend’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations which mark 60 years of Queen Elizabeth being on the throne.
More than a million people are expected to turn out during the four days of parades and pageants.
“If there is any early learning that will be immediately brought over,” he said.
Reporting by Avril Ormsby; Editing by Ken Ferris