On the background of the Burgas terror attack
and with reports in the global media claiming that security around the Israeli
Olympic representatives would be increased, it has been revealed that the Israeli swimmers who have been training in the borough of Corby over the last few days did not receive a security detail.
Yedioth Ahronoth decided not to publish the incident for security reasons so long as no security measures were in place for the swimmers.
The Israeli team – swimmers Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or, Imri Ganiel, Yonatan Kopelev, Gal Nevo and Yakov-Yan Toumarkin and coaches Leonid Kaufman and Hanan Sterling arrived in Corby last Thursday and trained there for five days, on Tuesday they returned to London ahead of the opening ceremonies.
Exposed: Israel's Olympic swimmers
Corby, a relatively isolated town is two hours away from London. The decision to train at a local university pool was made two years ago. Now it has been revealed that the swimmers and coaches did not receive a security briefing before heading to Corby.
Moreover, according to team testimonies, there was no security whatsoever on site – neither Israeli security nor local British security.
This approach, which left the Israeli swimmers exposed, is puzzling especially when it follows statements by security officials in Israel and around the world who expressed concerns over possible terror attack in London. The failing was exposed after the swimmers complained about the matter to their families.
"It was especially frightening because this is the Olympics, with all its security implications and global terror," said one senior delegation member. "It is also odd considering what happened in Bulgaria. From our perspective it seems irresponsible."
Speaking from the training camp Coach Kaufman said: "We don't feel that there is any security, but I assume the British are protecting (the site)."
When asked if he noticed any security guards he said that he did not. He also said they received no security briefing before leaving for Corby.
Where's the security? (Photo: AP)
A Shin Bet official made it clear that according to procedure, the Sports Ministry was supposed to send a request for security detail for the team. It was further claimed that as the team went to a training camp, from the Shin Bet's perspective it was no longer an official delegation, and would only become one upon its return to London.
The Shin Bet official added that after they heard of the situation local security sources were contacted, in order to offer some security measures to the swimmers.
In a statement the Shin Bet said: "After learning that the team left (London) randomly, we applied to the Sports Ministry to clarify the circumstances and indeed, we were told that the team was not under the auspices of the Sports Ministry. In light of that, the Shin Bet did not carry out any security (measures) other than alerting local authorities."
The Sports Ministry blamed the Swimming Association and claimed that until Yedioth Ahronoth alerted them of the situation, they were unaware of the fact that the team was in Corby.
"We take the Swimming Association's decision not to report the swimming delegation's trip to a training camp in England, against official delegation security procedures…very seriously," the Sports Ministry stated.
"In light of the special circumstances and the sensitivity of the matter, the Sports Ministry believes that the Swimming Association acted irresponsibly, and intends to carry out an expansive investigation into the matter.
"It should be stressed that had the Swimming Association notified the ministry…the ministry would have done everything in its power so that the security services would have given the team a security escort."
Swimming Association Chairman Noam Zvi said in response: "The finger should be pointed at the Olympic Committee who funded the training camp with the International Swimming Association…In this case the trip (to the training camp) was organized by the Olympic Committee so that we would not be under the constant pressure of the Olympic village."
The local police said in response, however that "a very well planned security operation, led by Northamptonshire Police and with the support of Corby Borough Council, (was held) throughout the team's visits to the UK and this security operation was very successful."