The Thames - Achilles heel of Olympics

2012-01-19 22:41
A combined Police and Royal Marines security exercise in preparation for the London 2012 Olympic Games on the River Thames in London. (Alastair Grant, AP)

A combined Police and Royal Marines security exercise in preparation for the London 2012 Olympic Games on the River Thames in London. (Alastair Grant, AP) (Alastair Grant)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

London - It is Britain's best-known river immortalized in the novels of Charles Dickens, and a waterway once so putrid that it shut Parliament because of its stench.

Now, the River Thames is getting the Olympics treatment as a potential security concern ahead of the games.

London's Marine Policing Unit and Royal Marines are conducting training tests on Thursday to make sure the police and military know how best to work together on the river that snakes some 338km across England and could give would-be terrorists a foothold for attacks.

Policing the vast territory for the games in July and August won't be easy. The security detail around the Olympics has grown to one that will involve the military and hundreds of security guards.

The tests this week have involved some 44 police officers and 94 military personnel in the run-up to the games, which start July 27th and end August 12th. Exercises have involved patrol vessels, inflatable boats and helicopters.

Some recent terror attacks like the Mumbai shooting spree in 2008 were launched from virtually unpatrolled waterways. Terrorists in the Indian metropolis arrived on small high-speed boats prior to their deadly attack that killed 166 people.

British authorities want to make sure the same type of attack doesn't happen in London.

Security officials have expressed concerns over would-be attackers using the river as a means of access into the games. But they are also concerned that attacks from the river could be launched against London's financial centre, which sits close to the banks.

Security officials say they worry about scares away from the Olympic Village that could divert resources away from a real attack.

52 killed

Security has long been a high priority for the Olympics. A terror attack at the 1972 Olympics in Munich killed 11 Israeli athletes and coaches.

London was the first European capital to be struck by suicide bombers in 2005 - the day after the city won its bid to host the games. Some 52 commuters were killed during the rush-hour attack in July 2005.

Chris Allison, the national Olympic security co-ordinator, has said the Thames is a key part of security preparations.

About 12 000 police officers will also be on duty on the busiest days of the games - together up to 13 500 troops deployed on land, at sea and in the skies. A huge presence of private security guards will also safeguard Olympic venues.

The Thames is a less than enticing vantage point for the Olympics - even for would-be attackers.

Although it has been cleaned up since the "Great Stink" of 1858 that forced the House of Commons to stay at home, its muddy reputation precedes itself. Comedian David Walliams battled diarrhoea after doing a charity swim along the River Thames last year.

The journey is almost seven times the distance of the English Channel and is associated with the Victorian era novels of Dickens, such as Bleak House.


Read more on:    olympics 2012  |  london  |  security

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Saturday Cape Town - 07:38 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
  • Saturday Constantia - 07:19 AM
    Road name: Rhodes Drive Both Ways
    ROAD CLOSED between Constantia Nek and Canterbury Road until 1300
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia Lumia 800

The stunningly social Nokia Lumia 800 features head-turning design, ...

From R2395.00

I'm shopping for:


Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.