Tourism authorities in Britain must be taking a deep breath as chaotic spasms of violence and looting spread from London to three other cities Tuesday night (8 August 2011).
Which raises some awkward questions: Is London ready to host next year’s Summer Olympics? Can the safety of foreign tourists, athletes, and officials be guaranteed? Will sports fans decide to give London a wide berth?
The violence broke out in London’s Tottenham section late Saturday night when a peaceful protest over the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan, a 29 year old father of four, who was shot by police a few days earlier, turned violent.
Groups of young people – many of them ethnic minorities – have rioted in London for three straight nights. Many restaurants, pubs, and shops have been forced to close early, fearing looters and arson attacks. Even upscale neighborhoods such as Notting Hill have been affected by the violence.
Is Britain Safe for Tourists?
The violence spread Tuesday night to three other British cities: Birmingham, Bristol, and Liverpool.
“The violence we have seen is simply inexcusable,” says police commander Christine Jones.
“Ordinary people have had their lives turned upside down by this mindless thuggery.”
2012 Summer Olympics
With a year to go before the Opening Ceremony of next summer’s Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee is putting on a brave face.
“Security at the Olympic Games is a top priority for the IOC,” says ICO spokesman Mark Adams.
You better believe it, Mark!
If British authorities can’t get a grip on things, there just might be more excitement in the streets of London next summer than in its sports venues.
Copyright: Michael Taylor Pictured: London Metropolitan Police in full riot gear Photo Credit: Eric Hossinger via Wikimedia Commons