Perhaps eager to avoid a repeat performance, Mitt Romney backtracked today from comments he made to NBC News that questioned England’s eagerness and preparation for the 2012 London Olympics.
In an interview with Brian Williams, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate suggested the nation faces troubling issues ahead of Friday’s opening ceremonies.
“You know, it’s hard to know just how well it will turn out,” Romney said, according to the Financial Times. “There were a few things that were disconcerting – the stories about the private security firm [G4S] not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is something which is not encouraging.”
Romney – touring Great Britain, Israel and Poland – was referring to soldiers providing extra security after contractor G4S admitted it couldn’t hire enough staff.
Shortly after that announcement, border patrol and passport workers, as well as bus drivers, threatened to strike. The border staff later backed away from their threat.
Such issues cast doubts on London for many other than Romney, head of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
However, the British press has a shaky relationship with the former Massachusetts governor after an unnamed Romney spokesperson Wednesday suggested the countries share an “Anglo-Saxon” bond.
Romney’s camp later said the quote was false.
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Still hyperaware of any missteps, Romney told a press conference today in London he’s confident the Games will unite Great Britain.
“The weather could not be better,” he said, according to The Telegraph. “Fortunately the sunshine is out and the warmth is here … I know the spirit and the people of this community will welcome the athletes of the world.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron – who met with Romney today – defended his nation’s abilities.
Speaking earlier at a press conference where he attempted to downplay a gaffe with the North Korean flag, Cameron said London is ready.
“Of course, this is a time of some economic difficulty for the UK, everybody knows that,” Cameron said, BBC reported. “But look at what we’re capable of achieving as a nation, even at a difficult economic time. … We’ll show the whole world not just that we've come together as a United Kingdom, but also we’re extremely good at welcoming people from across the world.”
Games competition began on Wednesday, and organizers inadvertently raised the South Korean flag for the North Korean women’s soccer team.
London organizers immediately apologized.
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