London opening ceremony shortened

Jul 19, 2012, 08:25 IST | AFP

Britain was forced to make more last-minute changes to the London Olympics yesterday, putting 2,000 extra troops on standby and shortening the opening ceremony to avoid transport problems

But with nine days to go for the Games, there was at least one bright spot as forecasters said the sun was set to shine soon after Britain’s wettest summer in 100 years.

India shooters Manavjit Singh Sandhu (below left) and Abhinav Bindra share a light moment at the Olympic Village

The run-up to the Games has been marred by a security fiasco when private contractor G4S said it could not fulfill its contract to supply 10,500 guards. The government has already said it will deploy 3,500 extra troops to plug the gap, taking the total military force at the Games to 17,000 but yesterday it announced it had even more on standby.

“Contingency plans are being drawn up for 2,000 more soldiers,” sports minister Hugh Robertson told a press conference.

India’s World No 1 archer Deepika Kumari (left) has a meal at the Olympic Village’s dining hall yesterday

Meanwhile, transport in congested London has been another worry ahead of the Olympics and the organisers said yesterday they had scrapped part of the £27-million ($42-million, 34-million-euro) opening ceremony to ensure it finishes in time for people to catch subways and buses home. “We need to make sure the show comes in on time to make sure spectators can get home on public transport, so we have taken the tough decision to cut a small stunt bike sequence of the show,” a LOCOG spokesman said.

Finally, the Met Office, Britain’s national weather service, said some much anticipated sunshine would return on Sunday and that southern England would enjoy dry weather next week, in time for the opening ceremony.

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