Olympic security questioned after Rio violence

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The Independent US

Fears over Olympic security came under the spotlight today after gang violence in Rio de Janeiro - hosts of the 2016 Games - left at least 12 people dead.

Sir Craig Reedie, a British member of the International Olympic Committee's executive board and a London 2012 board member, said: "The IOC did look at safety. Rio is a big city.

"I deeply regret what happened in Rio recently but I have to say that it pales into insignificance compared to what happened in London in 2005."

The day after London won the right to host the 2012 Olympics four suicide bombers killed 52 innocent people with explosions on London's transport system in July 2005.

Gun fights lasting several hours involving rival gangs in a Rio slum over the weekend killed at least 12 people, injured 16, and saw a police helicopter shot down and eight buses set on fire. It is just two weeks since Rio won the right to host the 2016 Games.

Speaking at a global sports conference in London, Mike Lee, the British public relations guru behind both London and Rio's successful Olympic bidding campaigns, said: "Big cities are dangerous places with massive challenges.

"Craig and I remember the day after London's victory and the terrible events that happened here in London and the impact it had on all of us.

"The nature of what is happening in Rio is slightly different but nevertheless if you go to an urban metropolis - it comes with challenges."

He insisted that Rio was not just "an emotional" choice by the IOC to host the 2016 Games because it will be the first time the event is staged in South America, but it was also a safety conscious choice.

Mr Lee said: "In presentations we were able to show the progress that is being made in Rio and that everybody is taking it (security) seriously.

"We addressed the issues of security. We hid nothing.

"I would say to anybody getting involved in these bidding processes - 'Do not think that you can hide your weaknesses'."

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