* Thousands start arriving in London for Olympic Games
* Security fiasco and transport worries cast shadow
* Busiest day on record at capital's main airport
By Peter Griffiths and Sophie Kirby
LONDON, July 16 The first wave of Olympic
athletes and visitors began pouring into Britain on Monday and
officials played down fears that a packed London would buckle
under the pressure of its biggest peacetime security and
An embarrassing shortage of security guards, fears over
airport queues and questions about the capital's creaking
transport system have overshadowed preparations for the Games.
Extra soldiers were drafted in to help police the Games
after private security firm G4S said it had run out of
time to train all its newly recruited staff. The
company's share price fell sharply on Monday.
Less than two weeks before the opening ceremony on July 27,
Prime Minister David Cameron said the G4S shambles would not
compromise Britain's largest peacetime policing exercise.
"We had contingency plans, we are using those contingency
plans and we will do whatever it takes to deliver a safe and
secure Games," Cameron told a news conference.
The security fiasco dominated the headlines over the weekend
and raised fears that Britain woulod struggle to cope with the
Games. A cartoon in the Daily Telegraph newspaper showed a
red-faced, overweight runner wearing a G4S vest, complaining: "I
didn't realise I had to run all the way to the end".
Some 12,500 police will be on Olympics duty each day, backed
up by soldiers, fighter jets and missile batteries on the top of
apartment blocks near the Olympics site in east London.
Security chiefs said they had prepared for threats on the
scale of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Four British Islamist
suicide bombers killed 52 people on three trains and a bus in
London on the day after the city was awarded the Games in July
RECORD AIRPORT NUMBERS
London's main Heathrow Airport was ready for its busiest day
on record, while the Olympic village opened its doors to the
The first arrivals at an airport notorious for queues at
security checks and passport control said everything had gone
"I was expecting a three-hour queue like everyone said. It
took not even five minutes. It was flawless - good job London,"
said John Retsios, 36, who had flown from New York with the U.S.
Modern Pentathlon team.
Airport operator BAA Plc, owned by Spain's Ferrovial
, said it expected a record 237,000 passengers to use
Heathrow on Monday, including 335 athletes. The busiest day for
arriving athletes is expected to be July 24.
The first section of road reserved for Olympic athletes and
officials began operating on Monday, when one lane of the
motorway linking Heathrow with the western edge of the capital
was closed to all non-Olympic traffic.
It will form part of a 30 mile (48km) network of road lanes
designed to whisk 82,000 athletes and officials through London's
notoriously congested streets. Critics have
nicknamed them "Zil lanes" after the roads reserved for the
limousines of senior officials in the old Soviet Union.
London mayor Boris Johnson said the city was ready for the
Games, the transport system would cope and visitors would be
"When the opening ceremony begins, then a lot of these
issues that we are currently discussing will melt away," Johnson
told BBC television. "There is a bit of 'pre-curtain up' jitters
and casting around for things to talk about."