With less than a year left untill the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, the recent riots could not have come at a worse time.
More than three days of continuous organized, violent rioting has resulted in burned buildings and cars, looted stores, and a general unease as to whether or not London's police and security forces will be able to contain a similar outburst at the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
The general lawlessness of the past week has sparked controversy among International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials as to the city's ability to secure high-profile events next summer while simultaneously dealing with protests, terrorist threats and the general security threat that comes with hosting eight million people.
The unrest comes at a time when budget cuts across London have forced police to scale back. There are plans to cut 9,000 of 35,000 police jobs, and emergency responders like firefighters and paramedics face staff cuts as well. These cuts have made it difficult to quell the widespread violence that seems to be spreading further over London, but police and security officials were confident that no expense would be spared to insure the safety of the athletes and spectators at the Olympics.
Officials were together to discuss possible ramifications when 200 executives and IOC members gathered in London this week to hold meetings on logistical matters like transportation, housing and health services. They will also attend several test events, including 54 matches of beach volleyball at the Horse Guards Parade, badminton at Wembley Arena, a marathon swimming event at Hyde Park on Saturday, Aug. 13, and a cycling road race through the streets of London on Sunday, Aug. 14.
The test events will take place from Aug. 9-14 as part of the London Prepares Series. While organizers have imposed an earlier curfew on the volleyball matches, there are no plans to move or cancel any of the current or upcoming events.
A few of the worst disturbances took place in the borough of Hackney, only miles from the $15 billion Olympic Park and Athlete's Village in east London. If any game buildings are damaged, it could be disastrous for next summer.
As thousands of police officers attempted to get a handle on the unrest, game officials tried to reassure prospective Olympic guests of their guaranteed safety.
"A lot of detailed work has taken place regarding security plans for the Games and we will continue to review them together with the Met Police and the Home Office over the coming year," a London 2012 spokeswoman said in a statement.
"It makes an Olympic Games and a Paralympic Games all the more important. We need a reason to come together. What better city to do it in than London," said British Olympic Association (BOA) director of communications Darryl Seibel.
Mark Adams, a spokesman for the I.O.C., said the committee was not worried about the security of next summer's Olympics because it had confidence in the Games' organizers. Officials from the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) were equally confident that this week's riots would have no effect on the games.
The BOA has added an online journey planner and travel pages to the 2012 Games website to give spectators almost a year to plan their trips to the venues. Visitors can scout routes by train, bus, boat and metro. As organizers try to cut back on private vehicle traffic during the games, guests can also access cycling and walking paths.