Daily Digest London: City braces for influx of spectators

Jeff Hargarten

LONDON – As the Olympics rapidly approach, citizens of the United Kingdom are preparing for an influx of tourists and event spectators. 

The UK Border Force has promised to increase the number of staff on hand during the Olympics. But queues at the border are already amassing, causing longer wait times to enter the country.

Officials expect a 13 percent rise in tourists during the game, a quarter of which are expected to come from North America.

Police officers from across Great Britain are being called upon to bolster security during the games. About 12,500 officers will be on hand for the Olympics, including 50 from Northern Ireland. Roughly 9,000 of those police are to be stationed in Greater London.

Motorists in central London are being warned to stay off the roads from July 14 through the end of the games. Londoners are urged to use public transport instead, though there have been concerns about overcrowding on the Tube, busses and ferries. The Olympic Route Network will be switched on July 25.

The British public has been slow to approve of the upcoming games. A March poll reported 51 percent of respondents didn’t think the games were worth the cost, 9.3 million quid of which is tax-payer funded.

One-in-five Londoners responding to a poll last year said they would leave the city until the events end, but that seems to have changed. Amadeus, a Spanish travel agency, reported 2 percent fewer London residents will leave the city this summer than in 2011.

Many students studying abroad in London for the summer have had their visas extended to stay through the games, as some programs end on July 27, the start of the games.