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HOME OFFICE STEP UP SECURITY

8th April 2012, 08:23pm

The Boat Race was disrupted

The Boat Race was disrupted

The Home Office will "leave nothing to chance" as they attempt to deliver an incident-free Olympic Games in London this summer.

Security at the Games is being overseen by the Home Office who were given a first-hand warning of possible problems at this weekend's Boat Race on the River Thames.

A lone protester forced the race to be halted for half an hour after swimming into the path of the Oxford and Cambridge crews.

Trenton Oldfield, 35, has been charged with a Section Five offence under the Public Order Act and bailed to appear at Feltham Magistrates' Court on Monday April 23.

The incident raised immediate concerns about the forthcoming Olympics, where the public will line the route for the marathon, triathlon, road cycling and open water swimming.

British Olympic Association chairman Colin Moynihan admitted that police and security chiefs could never completely eliminate the threat of "one idiot" disrupting events at London 2012.

But the Home Office tonight insisted that all efforts would be made to ensure that such an incident does not occur during the 17 days of the Olympics.

"The focus of the Government and everyone involved is to deliver a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games," a Home Office spokesman said.

"We are working to a robust and comprehensive safety and security strategy. We want to reassure everyone that we will leave nothing to chance in our aim to deliver a Games that London, the UK and the whole world will enjoy."

Moynihan said this morning that Olympic security was under constant review but that it was difficult to stop individuals.

"It just takes, and is likely to be, one idiot," he told BBC Radio Five Live.

"It's not likely to be a well-orchestrated campaign through Twitter or websites.

"It is likely to be someone similar to the idiot yesterday who causes major disruption.

"That is why all the security measures need to be put in place to minimise the chance of that happening.

"You can never completely remove it but you can do everything possible to protect the interests of the athletes by minimising it.

"It is so important to work closely with police and security agencies and to put in place every possible measure to protect the interests of all the athletes.

"It is a major challenge and the Government have been aware of this since day one and work closely with LOCOG (the Olympic organising committee). Every conceivable scenario is being reviewed and I'm confident no more can be done.

"It's not impossible but it is a major challenge.

"You can never get it perfect unless you remove all the crowds and nobody is going to dream of doing anything like that."

Boat Race organisers had been warned about potential protest swimmers ahead of last year's event but there was no information suggesting yesterday's race would be targeted.

David Searle, chief executive of the Boat Race Company, said: "We wargamed this last year with the launches and the umpires and crews. We practised emergency stops.

"We did think it was a possibility last year.

"I don't know what we can do really.

"We usually get good police intelligence. They can hear some chatter about what's going on and obviously they didn't hear anything about this."

The incident forced a half hour delay and there was more drama to come following the restart, with Oxford losing a blade in a fierce clash of oars.

Cambridge pulled clear to win by over four lengths and Oxford's subsequent appeal was rejected after umpire John Garrett ruled the clash was their fault.

But there was no victory ceremony after Oxford's bowman Alexander Woods passed out in his boat after the finish line, having apparently rowed himself into a state of exhaustion.

The 27-year-old Pembroke College student, who was conscious and in a stable condition when he was taken to Charing Cross Hospital from the river bank, was discharged today.

Oldfield, who was apparently protesting against elitism, ruined what had the makings of a classic Boat Race with the two crews level as they approached the final bend.

William Zeng, who was in the Oxford two seat, wrote on Twitter: "When I missed your head with my blade I knew only that you were a swimmer, and if you say you are a protester then, no matter what you say your cause may be, your action speaks too loudly for me to hear you.

"I know, with immediate emotion, exactly what you were protesting.

"You were protesting the right of seventeen young men and one woman to compete fairly and honourably to demonstrate their hard work and desire in a proud tradition.

"You were protesting their right to devote years of their lives, their friendships, and their souls to the fair pursuit of the joys and the hardships of sport.

"You, who would make a mockery of their dedication and their courage, are a mockery of a man."

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