AS THE OLYMPICS BEGIN
THE London Olympic Games that begin today will be the biggest security operation in peace time. A budget of $877-million is behind civilian and military operations to protect competitors and spectators. The British will see more soldiers and armed security personnel on their streets than many ever imagined.
More awesome is the unseen details - drones, satellites, missiles, high definition-cameraed helicopters that can pick out suspects, sniffer dogs and more than 2, 000 games specific close circuit television cameras which would join another 4.2 million such cameras that are part of normal London life.
Unknown to many, London is one of the most policed cities in the world, but with
12,500 police officers, 12,200 soldiers, at least 7,000 contracted civilian security workers and a further 5,500 troops involved in military operations outside games sites, it would be a different London.
Installation of six temporary high-velocity ground-to-air missile sites around East London, including two on residential apartment blocks resulted in a law suit. The residents lost the bid to remove the missiles.
Britain's biggest warship, HMS Ocean, is stationed on the River Thames, with Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel Mounts Bay at Weymouth, Dorset, venues of sailing events. Six helicopters - three Royal Navy Sea Kings and three RAF Pumas will join them.
Nigeria's chances at the Games lie more with the women. They are leaders in most of the sports where they have the opportunity to compete. They are just not given enough credit for their results under all guises, including claims that the women's category of competitions is not as strong as the men's.
Since winning their first Olympic medal 20 years ago, a bronze from the 4x100m relay in Barcelona, our women have won medals at subsequent Games (with Chioma Ajunwa winning Nigeria first gold medal, long jump, in 1996). The only medalless Games for them were Athens in 2004. The 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, saw the women winning most of Nigeria's medals. When Nigeria, first finished first at the All Africa Games in 2003, medals from women competitors exceeded those from the men.
Of the six medals won at the Atlanta Olympics, our women contributed one gold, one silver and two bronze. The football gold and bronze from boxing completed the count. In Sydney 2000, women won two of Nigeria's three silver medals until a final decision earlier this month elevated the men's 4x400m relay silver to gold.
London provides opportunity for our women to increase their total collection of a gold, three silver and five bronze medals, almost half of Nigeria's Olympic cache of three gold, eight silver, and 12 bronze medals.
We wish the Olympic team success.