Inside Lines: GB's Olympic security to be beefed up after bombings


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The Independent Online

British Olympic Association chief Lord Coe will consult with Prime Minister David Cameron, Special Branch and security chiefs on extra safety measures to protect Team GB during next month's Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Last week's suicide bombings in Volgograd which killed 31 people and left scores horrifically injured, and the threat of more to come, have brought a disturbing sense of reality that the danger will be clear and present when the Games begin on 7 February. There is no doubt security will be beefed up by the presence of much more than a handful of G4S minders.

Said a BOA spokeperson: "We will rely primarily on the security provided by the Games organising committee and the host country but, as with previous Olympic Games, we will have security personnel as part of our delegation. That has been in our planning all along. However, we do not disclose the exact number of security personnel nor do we discuss where those individuals will be based, for obvious reasons."

The possibility of SAS involvement cannot be discounted, although the Russian authorities will not officially permit any foreign military presence in the Games village or at event sites. Many overseas nations will incorporate their own international security experts and armed plain-clothed police in their delegation.

While there is no likelihood of a British withdrawal from the event, I understand any concerns expressed by individual team members will be treated "sympathetically". So far only Australia, whose Government always seems first in the queue when it comes to voicing security worries, has threatened to ban its athletes from the Games if terror fears persist.

One team member, Torah Bright, the defending women's halfpipe champion, says: "If the political position gets any worse, I sure as hell won't be risking my safety just for an Olympic Games."

From this week a veritable Iron Curtain will be draped around the Black Sea resort, with all non-essential access to Sochi banned. President Vladimir Putin has vowed to track down and "annihilate" those in Islamic separatist movements who have sworn to disfigure the most expensive and contentious Olympics in history.

Bootsy well suited

Of the gongs dished out in the New Year honours, none are more heartwarming than the long-overdue OBE awarded to Dave Bedford. "Bootsy," the one-time rebel renowned for his Zapata moustache and red socks in his heyday as the hairy monster of the track, has brilliantly run the London Marathon as race director for a decade.

While Bootsy has deservedly been suited, Andy Murray and David Beckham appear to have been wait-listed for knighthoods. Doubtless the tap on the shoulder will come, though it never did for their equally (or perhaps more) illustrious predecessors as Wimbledon champ and England football captain respectively.

Fred Perry won Wimbledon three times but outrageously remained unhonoured while Bobby Moore, shamefully treated by the FA, stayed an OBE despite hoisting the World Cup.

When the Eagle dared

Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards claims that at the height of his popularity as the world's most lamentable ski jumper, he was the George Clooney of snow business. Behind those pebble dash specs was a sex symbol who had groupies beating a path to his hotel door. "What was on offer was more than I could manage."

Now 50 and happily married, the libidinous Bird Man of Calgary reminds us of the response by Peter Crouch, hubby of model and Strictly star Abbey Clancy, when asked what he might have been had he not been a famous footballer. "A virgin," he replied.

Happy New Year.