Riots raise fears for London 2012 security
Given the disturbing scenes we are seeing across London and the rest of the country, the impact on sport is of relatively minor importance.
But there is no question the pictures of the capital burning, which are being beamed around the world, will seriously damage Britain's and London's image with a year to go until the Olympics.
And the rioting raises yet more serious questions about the Metropolitan Police's capacity to secure the Games next summer.
The Football Association's decision to cancel tomorrow night's friendly against the Netherlands at Wembley is a sign of how major sports events can get caught up in the wider issue of dealing with serious public disorder.
Olympic test events such as the Beach Volleyball International tournament at Horse Guards Parade are going ahead despite the rioting in London. Photo: AP
It is terrible timing for London 2012 with the International Olympic Committee in town for their twice yearly project review. The IOC issued a statement today reiterating its complete confidence in the authorities to handle the developing crisis but Denis Oswald, the chair of the IOC's co-ordination commission, must be asking some serious questions of Lord Coe and his team today.
Just two weeks ago the Mayor of London Boris Johnson gave a rousing performance in Trafalgar Square, reiterating time and again that London was ready. The venues might be but events of the past couple of days are evidence yet again, that Olympic hosts are at the mercy of events.
For the first time we are getting a sense of what it feels like to be at the other end of the lens. How often have we sat here, a year from an Olympics or World Cup, and made judgments on a country's or city's capacity to host these big events in the face of local security concerns, financial troubles or whatever else might be happening.
One year from the World Cup in South Africa and a stabbing in Johannesburg could spark questions about whether the whole thing should be called off. Some of this disorder is happening just a mile or so down the road from the Olympic Park. How will foreign athletes hoping to spend two weeks at the Olympic village in Stratford feel watching all this unfold on their televisions?
Security around the athletes and venues will, of course, be tight and I suspect none of the rioters smashing up our high streets care about the Olympics. They are unlikely to see the IOC or London 2012 as a target for their anger and frustration but at a time of severe financial hardship the nagging doubts over the £9.3bn cost won't be helped by what we are witnessing.
Then there was the promise, made by Lord Coe, during London's bid that the Games would help engage young people with sport. Judging the legacy before an event has even happened is clearly unfair but at this stage there is no evidence that the Olympics is doing anything - particularly in those London boroughs next to the Olympic park - to back up that promise.
The Metropolitan Police say that major public disorder was one of the key scenarios they were planning for in their preparations for London 2012.
At the moment there will be 12,000 police on duty across the UK during peak days and 9,000 in London itself. To put that into perspective, the Prime Minister has said there will be 16,000 on the streets of the capital tonight. The police say they will be looking to learn lessons for next year from what's been happening over the last few days.
Sport is peripheral. But, obviously, the riots are not what London 2012 wanted the world to be focusing on a year out from the Games. The knock-on effect for Britain and the capital's reputation at a time when we are in the spotlight could be significant.