London Riots: Worst Civil Unrest in Memory as City Gears Up for 2012 Olympics
LONDON - Less than a year before London plays host to the 2012 Olympics, the National Olympic Committee members gathered in London to prepare for the games watched in horror Monday night after the city was struck by a third night of widespread violence, looting and arson.
The chief managers of the Games' 204 participating teams are here to fine-tune preparations about transport, accommodation and food preparation.
But their concerns were dwarfed by a third night of turmoil in London, which transformed some of the city's urban pockets into scenes of utter destruction.
Among the areas struck by the worst violence and plundering from marauding gangs were Croydon, Hackney, Notting Hill, Clapham, Peckham, East Dulwich, Enfield, Islington, Hackney, Camden Town, Soho and Bethnal Green.
The spectacle of 6000 Metropolitan police officers on the street in full riot gear and with dogs - yet still unable to cope with multiple breakouts of violence - will have done little to promote the city's reputation as Olympic-ready.
Scenes of masked hooligans were seen on television ransacking shops with impunity, leaving buses, cars and whole blocks of shops in an inferno of flames without any sign of the fire brigade or police presence, have left serious questions about whether police here can handle any protests that might break out during the Games next year.
So far, representatives for the London 2012 Organizing Committee have maintained that security plans are in place and said that those plans and arrangements are "in constant review."
"Our position is that a lot of detailed work has taken place regarding security plans for the Games and we continue to review then with the Metropolitan Police Force," Adrian Bassett, spokesman for the London 2012 Games told the Hollywood Reporter.
Asked if the Games organizers had fielded concerns from the participating countries about the extent to which security issues will now cloud the games, he said he was unsure.
"I honestly don't know. They [the 204 National Olympic Committee members] are just starting today on their seminars today but I am sure they see the newspapers and watch television like everyone else."
Elswhere, British Olympics Association director of communications Darryl Seibel told Sky Sports that security around the games was "under control."
"No doubt this is not the type of advert we want to see with less than a year to go to the Games," he told Sky Sports News.
"From the day London was awarded the Games, security was a tp priority for the authorities and we have a lot of confidence in the plan that has been developed."
Asked if any damage had been caused to Olympic venues he said. "I'm not aware of any, no."
However, London's police have already admitted that they have not been able to respond to calls because they have been overstretched and London's Fire Brigade said that on many occasions it had not been able to respond to calls about burning buildings and vehicles because there were no police available to protect their fire officers.
Already the England-Holland soccer friendly scheduled for Wednesday night at Wembley has been cancelled and a slew of local games in South and East London have also been postponed as police struggle to find a way to bring the growing lawlessness under control.
The dramatic pictures of burning buildings across numerous London locations have spread round the world, forcing both Prime Minister David Cameron and Mayor of London Boris Johnson to cut short their holidays and return to the U.K. to deal with the situation.
The government's disaster and emergencies committee, COBRA, is meeting in emergency session Monday morning to discuss whether ramping up police powers and introducing a curfew are potential next steps to take.