A GOVERNMENT minister has insisted he is “absolutely confident” that the London Marathon can be kept safe this weekend, following the devastating bomb attacks at the end of the Boston race.
Several Britons are feared to be among those injured after two explosions ripped through the finish line in Boston on Monday evening, killing three people and wounding more than 140 others.
A list of competitors on the Boston Marathon website shows hundreds of British runners were expected to line up for the race, but exact figures of any UK casualties are not yet known and a Foreign Office spokesman said officials are trying to gather information.
The blasts struck six days before thousands of athletes and fun-runners take part in the London Marathon next Sunday, including fundraisers from Hartlepool and East Durham.
Asked if he believed the London race should still go ahead, sports minister Hugh Robertson told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “Yes, I do.
“I think this is one of those incidents where the best way to show solidarity with Boston is to continue and send a very clear message to those responsible... These are balance of judgments but we are absolutely confident here that we can keep the event safe and secure.”
Mayor of London Boris Johnson has spoken to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe about the possibility of extra security for the race.
Mr Johnson said: “The bombings in Boston are shocking, cowardly and horrific, and the thoughts of all Londoners will be with the victims. Boston is a proud city built on history, tradition and a real sense of community.
“These attacks were aimed at its core, at innocent men, women and children enjoying a spring day out at a major sporting event. We do have robust security measures in place for Sunday’s London Marathon, but given events in Boston it’s only prudent for the police and the organisers of Sunday’s race to re-examine those security arrangements.”
Nick Bitel, the chief executive of London Marathon, said: “Our security plan is developed jointly with the Metropolitan Police, and we were in contact with them as soon as we heard the news.”