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Britain plans for 'severe' Olympic threat

LONDON -- Britain is planning for the terror threat to be "severe" during the 2012 London Olympics despite the level being downgraded by the government this week, Olympics minister Hugh Robertson said Tuesday.

Home secretary Theresa May announced Monday that the overall assessment of a terrorist attack for the current period had been lowered from "severe" to "substantial."

The new alert level means that the risk of an attack is considered a "strong possibility" and could occur "without further warning."

But Robertson said Tuesday that the "planning assumption" remains that the threat will return to severe for the Games, meaning an attack is highly likely in Britain.

"The national threat level goes up and down as the Home Office sets it," Robertson said. "All our planning for the Olympics security is done on the basis that the threat level will be severe. So we are planning for the most serious security state. If it is much less than that, it is brilliant news."

Although severe is the second-highest classification, the top level of "critical" -- which means an attack is imminent -- is rarely implemented.

The Olympics start July 27, 2012.

In July 2005, suicide bombers attacked London's transport network, killing 52 people.