LONDON -- Preparations continue apace six months ahead of the 2012 London Olympics with organizers promising the right balance will be struck between security and sport at the world's largest sporting event.
However, London's citizens remain to be convinced, not least because of last week's huge security exercise which saw the United Kingdom's elite military and police forces take command of the River Thames as part of their preparations for protecting the event against terrorist attack.
Operation Woolwich Arsenal Pier was the country's biggest peacetime security operation and involved marine police officers in rigid inflatables and the deployment of fighter jets and a Royal Navy Lynx helicopter over the City of London.
While the issue of China's human rights record dominated the run-up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, security dominates the preparations for London 2012.
With just six months to go until the Olympic flame is lit on July 27, the sporting venues are all practically complete, the Olympic volunteers have been recruited and 8 million tickets have been sold.
Mayor Boris Johnson has promised that London, which also hosted the Olympic Games in 1908 and 1948, will put on "the greatest show on earth" in the "best big city in the world."
The meticulous preparations and ongoing security exercises mean the Olympic feelgood factor has so far failed to win over many Londoners, especially in poorer areas around the Lea Valley where the majority of sporting events will take place.
Residents in the district of Walthamstow have set up an initiative group because they are no longer allowed to bring their dogs for a walk in the park, while others complain about a steep rise in rents and ever-increasing security restrictions.
Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales, meanwhile, has called for a licensing system to be set up for tenants in his area, which is also part of the Olympic region, to prevent exorbitant rents being charged by unscrupulous landlords.
The burning issues remain whether the security measures in place can guarantee the safety of the 15,000 athletes from across the world and whether London's aging underground railway system will be able to cope with the expected surge in visitor numbers.
"We're in good shape," promises Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Organizing Committee (LOCOG) and Olympic 1500-metre champion from 1980 and 1984.
Security is the major concern for London's eight million residents, especially as the memory of the 2005 terror attacks, which left 56 people dead, remain fresh in the collective mind.
The British Secret Service has highlighted the River Thames as a possible Achilles heel as security experts believe terrorists would be most likely to use the river in any attempt to enter the Olympic Park.
The head of Interpol, Ronald Noble, stated just a few days ago that there was no specific intelligence or information indicating that the Olympics were a target for any terrorist attack.
Olympic organizers aren't taking any chances, though, and a warship will be docked along the bank of the Thames near Greenwich while surface-to-air missiles and Eurofighter jets will also be deployed.
Another warship will be stationed near Weymouth on the south coast to protect athletes competing in sailing events there.
Some 13,000 British soldiers will be on duty to protect the Olympics, more than are currently serving in Afghanistan, and they will be complemented by 10,000 police officers and private security personnel.
LOCOG has estimated that the final security bill for the Games will exceed 1 billion pounds (1.55 billion dollars).
Police officers are undergoing extra training and following the embarrassing security failures during last summer's London riots and numerous security breaches, Scotland Yard wants to reassure the general public that it has things under control.
However, any concerns about security have to be balanced by the need to provide visitors to the Olympic Games with a pleasant experience.
Organizers want to avoid subjecting visitors to long waiting times or annoying and intrusive security procedures before entering sporting venues.
Work is also underway to make sure that the London Tube, which is already at its passenger limit, runs smoothly for the duration of the Games.
Nobody is really sure how the creaking railway system, which already transports 3 million passengers daily, will be able to accommodate the expected 1 million extra Olympic visitors, even with the introduction of the high-speed "Javelin" lines which links the Olympic Park with the city center.