German politician wants Games moved if UK riots continue

By Karolos Grohmann

LONDON (Reuters) - BERLIN, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Olympic officials should consider moving the London 2012 Olympics if the riots and looting of the past days in the capital continue, German member of parliament Manuel Hoeferlin said on Friday.

London has been hit by a wave of violence since Saturday with thousands of masked youths rioting, looting and torching buildings, a year before the Games.

The riots started following a peaceful protest after a man had been fatally shot by police two days earlier.

"Games cannot be changed from one day to the next. So I say that if the situation remains like that then we have to think early enough about changing the location," said Hoeferlin, a member of parliament in the ruling center-right coalition.

"If under normal circumstances you need such a large number of police to control such violence, then how will it be at Games time when you have so many visitors," Hoeferlin told Reuters in an interview.

"How would it look? I have trouble imagining it. If the Games were held today it is something I cannot imagine," he said.

"I have only expressed what many people were thinking at the start of the week," Hoeferlin, a member of the Free Democrats (FDP), junior coalition partners to Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, said.

"Can a great event like the Games take place there next year under such conditions?"


He said Germany or even several countries could take over hosting the Olympics.

"Germany obviously has very good infrastructure, especially from the 2006 men's and 2011 women's soccer World Cups and we have very good sports venues overall," said Hoeferlin.

The riots were not confined to London and spread to several other major cities though it has eased in the past 24 hours.

"If the situation is contained then the Olympics can be staged there. That can happen," he said.

"The difficulty is time and that is why I said it now because if you take that decision too late then the Games could end up being postponed."

Germany has not staged an Olympics since the 1972 Munich Games and only days ago quietly marked the 75th anniversary of the 1936 Berlin Olympics which were overshadowed by the then ruling Nazi regime.

Last month Munich failed in its bid to host the 2018 winter Games.