— Jenny Barchfield
There were rooftop missiles near the main venue, an imposing warship on hand, an army of undercover agents. But the 2012 Olympics turned out to be terrorism-free.
British authorities say that was no coincidence.
A day after London won the Olympic bid in 2005, homegrown suicide bombers struck during London's morning rush-hour. In the aftermath, Britain's security, intelligence and eavesdropping agencies — MI5, MI6 and GCHQ — received more money, manpower and equipment and thwarted dozens of terror plots — a major factor they say has helped to keep the games safe.
"Over the years, we've managed to make Britain a difficult place to operate in if you're a terrorist," a British security official told AP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
But with post-Olympics celebrations stretching into the week and the Paralympics not wrapping up until September, Britain's security officials say their job is far from over.
Hundreds of personnel have been told to forget about vacations until next month. And the private security contractor for the Olympics, G4S, says some 5,000 guards will be on hand for the Aug. 29-Sept. 9 event.
— Paisley Dodds — Twitter http://twitter.com/paisleydodds
RIO TAKES OVER
Rio is more than samba and Carnival.
Granted, but is it men in silver metal suits with oversized headgear?
London went into kitsch overdrive as it sampled five decades of British music Sunday night at the Olympics closing ceremony, but Rio's 2016 organizers appeared determined to out-weird them.
No matter — a beaming Pele was in the house.
Rio had me at "hello" — er, "Oi." Hey boss, can I go?
— Sheila Norman-Culp, Twitter at http://twitter.com/snormanculp
A BRITON REFLECTS
AP's Fergus Bell, a Londoner, shares his impressions of the closing ceremony from his seat in Olympic Stadium:
Britain did it. When London Mayor Boris Johnson handed the Olympic flag to the Mayor of Rio, I think that many here were sad to see it go, though there were probably a few sighs of relief as well.
But nothing at all major went wrong. For people in this country, nothing blighted these magical weeks. It's an opinion, of course, and an insider's to boot, but here it is: We did it the way we could, we did our best and we did it well.
— Fergus Bell — Twitter http://twitter.com/fergb
His face serious but his voice powerful, Gary Barlow took the stage at the very end of the London Olympics closing ceremony, singing "Rule the World" alongside his Take That bandmates with strength and poise just days after a tragedy in his own life.
Speculation had been rife that Barlow would bow out of the performance after he and his wife Dawn said Aug. 6 that their daughter had been stillborn.
At the time, the couple said they were devastated by the loss of Poppy Barlow and said their focus was "on giving her a beautiful funeral and loving our three children with all our hearts."
Barlow and his wife have a son and two daughters. Barlow, also a judge of the TV talent show "The X Factor," was organizer of June's huge Buckingham Palace concert celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.
— Cassandra Vinograd — Twitter http://twitter.com/cassvinograd
The London Olympics have ended. IOC President Jacques Rogge just pronounced them closed.
"We will never forget the smiles, the kindness and the support of the wonderful volunteers, the much-needed heroes of these games. You, the spectators and the public, provided the soundtrack for these games," Rogge says.
He adds: "You have shown the world the best of British hospitality."
And this: "These were happy and glorious games."