Problems galore for London Olympics 2012

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London, Jul 20: The London Olympics have been hit by a series of problems even before the first event started. Local passport officials and train drivers have gone on to strike, posing a serious challenge to the Olympics starting next week while serious worries have surfaced over security issues.

London Olympics Special

Passport desks around London struggled to provide smooth public service in recent months and passengers have had to wait for several hours for immigration checks at Heathrow Airport because of staff crunch. The Public and Commercial Services union said its staff, including the border agency and immigration personnel, had called a strike following a dispute with the interior ministry over pay and job cuts.

Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking during a visit to Afghanistan, said of the planned action by passport officials: "I do not believe it would be justified."

The Aslef rail union said on Thursday that 450 of its staff in central England would not join work between August 6-8 over pensions. It would affect visitors from travelling from places like Sheffield, Nottingham and Deby to London. The government warned the unions saying it would invite serious reaction from the people.

Authorities have already faced problem in deploying extra soldiers to beef up security at the Games after a private firm failed to provide 10,400 security guards as was promised and the Defence Ministry had to rope in an extra 3,500 troops to make up the 17,000-strong security contingent. Another 2,000 troops might also be required if the security firm fails to meet the minimum requirement of 7,000 staff.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, however, assured safety for the Games in a city where suicide bombers had carried out a terrible attack in July 2005, killing 52 people. The suicide bomb attack on a bus carrying Israeli tourists at Burgas airport in Bulgaria on Wednesday created further concerns but Hunt said they were abiding by the advice of a very competent intelligent service.

There are issues with the opening ceremony of Jul 27 as well. Reports say that Oscar-winning film director Danny Boyle, who is overseeing the 27 million pounds show, are having problems with the Olympic Broadcasting Services which is charge of airing the Games.

With the Games just a week away, the British media have focused heavily on the opening ceremony amid reports of tensions between Oscar-winning film director Danny Boyle, who is overseeing the 27 million pound show, and the Olympic Broadcasting Services in charge of airing the Games.

An unnamed source said the two sides are having 'miserable times' and rehearsals are reportedly behind the schedules. Hunt said although he is not aware about the specific problems, but expects that there will be negotiations to settle the issues. The event, which will feature 10,000 performers, has been shortened keeping in mind a probable public inconvenience while returning home at night.

The prevailing wet weather in the Olympics has been another concern. The British media have already termed it as 'Soggy Olympics'. Hunt, however, said it was normal that there would be a few initial hitches in staging such a huge event but said the preparation so far was smooth and encouraging.

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