Nightly News   |  July 23, 2012

Thousands of police officers patrol in London

As the opening ceremony of the Olympics approaches, London is covering its bases with an influx of security forces on the ground, in the air and in the water. But officials still worry about the possibility of a ‘soft target,’ such as an attack on a bus, that would have a huge emotional impact on the city. NBC’s Stephanie Gosk reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> all eyes on london tonight with the opening ceremony of the olympic games now just four days away except for some final touches the olympic park is ready and the folks in charge of security say they are, too. our own stephanie gosk joins us tonight from inside the park for the first time. stephanie , good evening.

>> good evening, brian. they've been rehearsing opening ceremonies and you can hear the music from where we are. today government officials met for the first time for a security briefing that will happen every day to ensure the athletes that come here and the people that come here to watch them are safe. today u.s. tennis star and olympian venus williams returned to wimbledon not with a racket but with the torch. across town at the police command and control center robert broadhurst had his eye on the torch, too. he is in charge of 9,000 police officers for the olympics -- on the ground, in the water, and in the air. they are prepared, he says, for any kind of threat.

>> the biggest threat of course is terrorism but the likelihood of that is very, very small.

>> reporter: more likely an attack on a softer target. in a city of more than 8 million people there are a lot of them. there are more than 6,000 buses in london . it would be too time consuming to check everyone's bag and impossible to put a police officer on every bus. that's why they're considered a soft target . an attack on a bus, even small one, would have a huge emotional impact on this city. because it has happened before . seven years ago a home grown terror cell attacked london commuters, killing dozens. for the games, police are backed up by an arsenal of military might including fighter jets , surface-to-air missiles on apartment buildings, and the royal navy 's largest ship the hms ocean . the biggest peace time security operation in british history . earlier this month, it hit an obstacle. a security guard shortage at the venues. 3500 british troops are filling the gap. more are on stand by. defense expert michael clark believes it will only make the games safer.

>> who would you rather be looked after by -- a group of people who are casual employees or cheerful faces, the army and the police?

>> reporter: tonight the smiles from there for one of the final dress rehearsals before friday's opening ceremony . officials say the key to successful security here in london will be a balance between peaceful policing on the surface and necessary force hidden below. it's a task they admit is not very easy. brian?

>> stephanie gosk in london tonight where we will see you shortly and along those lines just a reminder here. our "nightly news live" coverage from london begins on wednesday and on wednesday on this broadcast an exclusive interview with mitt romney who will be in london as part of a multi nation overseas trip.