The O2 arena, one of London’s most popular entertainment venues, said Wednesday that Ariana Grande’s scheduled concerts this week could still go on as planned – although time is quickly running out on a final decision.
Grande is due to perform at the O2 on Thursday and Friday as part of her “Dangerous Woman” tour. However, some media outlets have reported that the shows have been canceled, and the singer herself apparently returned to Florida on Tuesday, the day after a suicide bomber detonated himself at her concert at the Manchester Arena, killing 22 people.
Sources told Variety that the O2’s management met Wednesday morning to discuss the situation and that the upcoming performances “could happen,” but a decision needed to be made swiftly because of the logistical challenges of breaking down the concert set in Manchester and transporting it to London in time for a Thursday evening show.
Grande’s fans have been urging the O2 to make an announcement, especially before some of them begin traveling to London from other parts of Britain – and from even farther afield – to attend the concert. By noon Wednesday, no official announcement had been issued by either the O2 or the tour promoters as to whether the London dates were still a go.
“Thanks to everyone who has been in touch,” the O2 said on Twitter. “We’re still in contact with the tour promoters regarding a final decision. As yet the tour is not officially postponed or cancelled, despite media reports.”
Security throughout Britain has been beefed up in the wake of Monday night’s bombing. The British government has elevated the national terror threat level to “critical,” meaning that more attacks may be imminent.
At the O2, guests are expected to pass through metal screening and to have their bags inspected. The O2 also uses sniffer dogs. “There are the security measures you can see and of course the ones you can’t,” the venue says on its website.
Besides concerts, the O2 hosts other entertainment events and also the season-ending tournament featuring the world’s top-ranked male tennis players.
Chris Kemp, an expert on crowd management and security who runs the Mind Over Matter consultancy, said there were already some lessons to be drawn from Monday’s attack on the Manchester Arena.
“One thing is the timing, towards the end of the event,” Kemp said. “Every promoter and event manager knows people can get tired and complacent and lose concentration at that point, and people are also moving from their usual surveillance points. That leaves openings for an attack.”
Kemp added: “People realize they need to change the way they operate, having seen what happened the other night, and the way things have been done isn’t good enough.”