China questions whether London is fit to host Games after riots

Chris Chase
Fourth-Place Medal

State-run newspapers in China have questioned whether the ongoing riots in London will make the city unfit to host the Olympics next summer.

"The three consecutive days of rioting has spread to east London area where the main sports stadium of London Olympic is located," the Xinhau news agency reported Tuesday. "After the riots, the image of London has been severely damaged, leaving the people skeptical and worried about the public security situation during the London Olympics."

Similar comments in the Communist-backed People's Daily provide a not-so-subtle reminder that China pulled off a massively successful Olympics in Beijing three summers ago. The insinuation is that the lack of dissent in China made the 2008 Games great and those freedoms could derail London 2012.

China did a fine job keeping politics out of its Olympics. For all the worries about the pre-Games crackdowns, censorship and government interference, those things were forgotten once the athletes arrived in town and sports took over the conversation. If only the country to continue the selective restraint and keep its opinion about the cause of the riots to itself.

In addition to the real-world problems caused by the riots, they're a very real security concern for the Olympics. Some events have already been affected. It was announced Tuesday that a beach volleyball test event will end before sunset so athletes, fans, officials and volunteers can leave prior to nightfall.

London hardly needs to be reminded of the dangers from China.

"Security at the Olympic Games is a top priority for the IOC," spokesman Mark Adams told the AP. "While we are not responsible for security, we're happy with how local organizers are dealing with the issue and we are confident they will do a good job."

Being ready for potential disasters can end up strengthening a city's handling of the Games. Vancouver panicked because of warm weather and the lack of snow. The worry before Beijing was about the quality of air. For the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, skeptics wondered whether the venues would be ready in time. Much was made of these problems and little came of them. The host cities identified potential problems and were ready to deal with them if, or when, they presented themselves.

Expect London to do the same.

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