Note to Olympics fans: London will be crowded

In light of the large crowds for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and Olympic torch relay, British Olympic organizers are allocating more funds for public safety and crowd control in London this summer.

Matt Dunham/AP/File
This May 5 file photo shows armed British police officers posing for photographers while patrolling during the British Universities and Colleges Sport Athletics Championship (BUCS) outside the Olympic Stadium in the Olympic Park in London.

Britain is pouring more money into crowd-control plans for London during the Olympics, with the government acknowledging Wednesday it had vastly underestimated the number of people likely to take part in the city's heady atmosphere.

Unexpectedly large turnouts have met the Olympic torch relay all over Britain, surprising even the most optimistic cheerleaders for the Summer Games. The celebrations surrounding Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee this month also drew millions into the capital — another jamboree of unexpected proportions.

So with hundreds of cultural events taking place at the same time as the Olympics, authorities now accept that more people are likely to come than they had anticipated. Olympics minister Hugh Robertson said Britain was devoting an additional 19 million pounds ($29 million) to crowd control, bringing the total spent on such measures to about 76 million pounds ($117 million).

"We know exactly how many tickets have been sold and roughly how many people should be in London," Robertson said. "(But) absolutely nobody knows how many people are going to turn up."

The money will be used to hire ushers, provide barriers and pedestrian bridges and otherwise keep the public safe. Funds are also going to be devoted to providing security and directions for the "last mile," or the distance between transport hubs and Olympic venues since most people will be using public transportation.

Transport for London, which manages the city's vast, aging and strained public transit network, estimates that 1 million more people a day than usual will be in London during the games, which take place from July 27 to Aug. 12. They've planned for years to deal with the impact, upgrading transit links all over the city, and have been constantly reminded that the success or failure of the games rests in part on whether London keeps moving.

But with just 44 days to go, Robertson and other officials found themselves on the defensive for putting such additional planning off until now.

"The scope of the demand for the Olympic Games" only recently became clear, Robertson said.

He still insisted that people should come into the city and enjoy being part of it all, but urged them to plan ahead.

"London this summer is going to be the place to have a party," he said. "It is a great national event."

Olympic venues will be guarded by 23,700 people, including military personnel and volunteers. That doesn't include some 12,000 police officers taking part in securing London on the busiest of days.

Robertson predicted that the overall London Olympics was on track to remain under its 9.3 billion ($14.5 billion) budget. He said he expects around 500 million pounds ($778 million) can be handed back to the British treasury.

When the Olympics budget set in 2007, it was almost four times higher than the estimated cost when London won the bid in 2005, drawing criticism from lawmakers.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to