By Steven Oldham, Chief Sports Correspondent
As the one year to go countdown begins, the London 2012 Olympics has been declared the most risk-aware ever by a leading expert from the University of Manchester.
Dr Will Jennings has given the organisers of 2012, Locog, a commendable appraisal of their plans to avoid disruption to the Games.
Dr Jennings, who has a strong interest in the organisation of large-scale events, has been researching his work since 2008 with financial backing from the Economic and Social Research Council Fellowship fund.
He said: “The time seemed ripe for a study of how Olympic organisers had managed risk over the years and to see how London was preparing for 2012.”
He explained that global events such are naturally problematic from a risk management perspective – in terms of over-running costs, infrastructure and travel and the threat of terrorism.
Dr Jennings decided to research this topic further after London won the Olympics in Singapore, beating rival Paris in the last round of voting.
He worked alongside the London School of Economics’ Martin Lodge whilst researching, who contributed infrastructure and security risk information to the project.
Perhaps surprisingly, he does not see extremism as the biggest threat to the Games.
“The threat of terrorism tends to receive most attention from the media and the public, and undoubtedly is important, but I’d identify risks relating to the functioning of the transport system and infrastructure as critical areas for a successful Games.”
He believes that something seemingly harmless enough as a power cut could possibly lead to problems.
“There is an interesting branch of organisational theory that highlights how it is sometimes routine, innocuous failures in complex systems that can lead to major accidents,” he said.
PRAISE: Dr Will Jennings has commended London 2012 organisers
Dr Jennings has praised the emphasis put on risk avoidance by those involved at London 2012, to avoid problems such as the bomb at Atlanta 1996 and the dark days of Munich 1972, where 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were murdered by Palestinian terrorists.
He said: “Extensive effort has been put into place to ensure London is a safe and secure Games – in terms of infrastructure, finance, transport and security. Recent Games such as Vancouver and London have been more risk conscious than ever before.”