* More than 1,000 more soldiers called in for Olympics
* Buzz across London grows with three days to go
* Rehearsal gets positive reviews but attendees sworn to
* Row over whether Munich tribute should be included
By Mike Collett-White
LONDON, July 24 Britain deployed 1,200 extra
soldiers on Tuesday in a last-minute effort to bolster Olympic
security while global diplomatic tensions started to play out
among athletes and politicians three days ahead of the opening
The additional troops, which took the military contingent at
the 2012 Games to well over 17,000, were called in to cover an
embarrassing shortfall left by private security group G4S, the
world's largest by some measures, in the run-up to the Games.
The company caused a scandal by failing to meet its target
for the number of guards it could provide, and on Tuesday said
that it had deployed around 5,800 security personnel, still
short of its revised objective of 7,000.
Police stressed that they were content with security
arrangements for the greatest show on earth, which kicks off in
Cardiff, Wales, on Wednesday with a soccer match between the
women's teams of Britain and New Zealand.
"We've done all the planning, we've looked at the way in
which terrorists have attacked in the past and we try to make
sure that none of those could get through our security
measures," said Chris Allison, Britain's national Olympic
Hundreds of thousands of visitors have descended on London
and a million extra people are expected in the city each day of
the July 27-Aug. 12 event, putting pressure on a creaking
transport system, some of which dates from the 19th century.
Yet for all the grumbling by a notoriously critical media
and Londoners braced for disruptions to their daily lives, the
sense of excitement was palpable with the Games just around the
corner and the sun shining brightly after weeks of rain.
Early buzz from Monday evening's technical rehearsal for the
opening ceremony at the main stadium of the sprawling Olympic
Park was positive, suggesting film-maker Danny Boyle's unusual,
quirky and ambitious vision might just work.
Some 11 million visitors will witness the thrill of victory
and despair of defeat as some of the world's greatest athletes,
from Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt to U.S. swimmer Michael
Phelps, battle for the ultimate prize in sport - Olympic gold.
Britons, buoyed by Bradley Wiggins' historic victory in the
Tour de France cycling marathon at the weekend, are confident of
another impressive medals haul after success in Beijing in 2008.
The Games will cost nine billion pounds ($14 billion) to
stage, and in spite of criticism of the outlay during straitened
economic times, officials have defended the spending as most
goes into regenerating run-down east London for the long term.
As well as a flood of ordinary people, luxury yachts of the
super-rich have moored close to the stadium. Expected
dignitaries include Russian President Vladimir Putin,
presidential candidate Mitt Romney and U.S. First Lady Michelle
Politics played out before the world's media as much as
sport in the final countdown to kick-off, with a debate over how
to mark the 1972 Munich attack by Palestinian militants that
killed 11 Israeli Olympic team members moving up the agenda.
Security is already a sensitive issue in London. The day
after the capital was awarded the 2012 Games, the city was hit
by suicide bomb attacks that killed 52 people.
Widows of those killed in 1972 arrive in London on Wednesday
to pressure Olympics organisers to mark the 40th anniversary of
the tragedy, stepping up a long campaign to organise an official
Romney joined the fray, saying he supported a minute's
silence at Friday's opening ceremony, after Olympic chief
Jacques Rogge paid a surprise tribute to the fallen athletes in
London on Monday.
British Prime Minister David Cameron may use the Games,
which unite world leaders, businessmen and celebrities as well
as more than 16,000 athletes and 20,000 journalists, to press
Putin over his ties to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Sources said he would accompany Putin to an Olympic judo
match if the Russian leader attends the Games, and may urge him
to drop his support for Assad's regime which is engaged in a
violent conflict with rebels seeking to topple him.
In a reflection of the world they have left behind for the
duration of the Games, participants from Libya and Egypt will
represent the new face of the "Arab Spring" after uprisings
ousted the old regimes.
Distance runner Guor Marial, a refugee from Sudan's civil
war, is fighting for permission to compete as an independent
athlete because his newly-established country, South Sudan, has
not had time to create a National Olympic Committee.
Marial, who lost 28 members of his family in the war, has
refused an invitation to run for Sudan, from which South Sudan
split last year.
"For me to just go and represent Sudan is a betrayal of my
country first of all, and is disrespecting my people who died
for freedom," he said.
Syria's small Olympic team has arrived and is expected to
compete but it was unclear how it will be received given the
level of condemnation of Assad.
Around 30,000 people, including family members of the huge
cast of men, women and children taking part, filled the main
Olympic stadium on a balmy Monday evening for the first open
rehearsal of the opening ceremony.
Most of them honoured Oscar-winning "Slumdog Millionaire"
director Boyle's pleas for details of the event to remain secret
and off the public pages of Twitter and Facebook.
The opening ceremony mastermind has voiced frustration at
the media and members of the public who have leaked elements of
the ceremony, which is inspired by William Shakespeare's play
"The Tempest" and has a strong musical element.
What is officially known is that the first sequence
recreates a pastoral idyll, complete with geese, sheep, horse
and cart, fields, fences and a game of village cricket. The
ceremony is expected to be artistic and intimate compared to the
opening extravaganza in Beijing.
What the media has since leaked includes elements of the
next "act" of the show, recreating the "dark Satanic mills" of
William Blake, whose poem including this reference to the
Industrial Revolution became an anthem to England.
Even at the full rehearsal there were key moments missing,
and mystery surrounds both the location of the Olympic cauldron
and the identity of the individual given the honour of lighting
it in front of a television audience of more than a billion.
The crowd faced some travel delays on their way home late on
Monday, underlining the logistical challenge London faces, to be
made worse by planned strike action by passport officials and
some train drivers on key Olympic dates.
The British government on Tuesday asked the High Court to
block the strike action by the border staff union.
London's "Games lanes", reserved for Olympic officials,
athletes, sponsors and the media, open on Wednesday, and are
sure to spark more complaints, including from the city's famous
Londoners have labelled them Zil lanes after the Soviet
limousines given special privileges.