At the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, security for the Games will be coordinated by Brazil’s National Secretariat for the Security of Major Events, an agency that operates under the Ministry of Justice.
The federal, state and regional governments will work alongside the local organising committee, while the country’s military police as well as the national security force will be on the ground to support the State Commission of Public Security and Civil Defence for the 2016 Games, which features input from more than 20 agencies.
About 47,500 individuals will contribute towards security efforts for the Games in Rio itself, while more than 37,000 will work in the six cities where football matches will take place, in Brasília, Belo Horizonte, Manaus, Rio, Salvador and São Paulo.
“The planning for the 2016 Olympics is focused on international cooperation following the successful approach to the 2014 Fifa World Cup,” Andrei Rodrigues, the Ministry of Justice’s Special Secretary for the Games, told SportBusiness International.
“For the 2016 Games, the International Police Cooperation Center (CCPI) group will integrate policies from different countries, allowing information to be exchanged with Brazilian security forces.
“The CCPI will work with the Integrated Center for Combatting Terrorism to bring together professionals from intelligence agencies across various countries that work specifically in this area.
“It is also worth mentioning that Brazil is a member of Interpol, an organisation that comprises 190 countries and has a fundamental role in combatting terrorism. Moreover, the federal police’s attachés have exchanged information with local authorities.”
However, ultimate responsibility for crowd safety and security often relies on the eyes and ears on the ground.
For example, Salim Toorabally, who was checking tickets outside the turnstiles of the Stade de France on his very first shift at the national stadium on November 13, was the man who prevented a suicide bomber from gaining entrance to the stadium, and therefore almost certainly saved scores of lives.
Peter Harrison is the managing director of FGH Security, which works across a range of industry sectors.
“Most reputable security suppliers will visit a potential site alongside event organisers and they can produce a security risk assessment,” he told SportBusiness International. “From a security and a crowd management perspective, some sites are far easier to manage effectively than others, and an untrained eye would not realise this.
“Most decent events will hold a series of scheduled planning meetings prior to an event through a joint agency group, safety advisory group or event liaison team.
“A good event organiser will circulate an agenda and at the meetings deadlines will be set for different people to carry out different tasks. It is quite common for sub-groups to be formed for matters such as security. This would typically include people such as key representatives from the local constabulary, a security manager and sometimes other police agencies and specialists.”
Some sites are far easier to manage effectively than others
The difficulty is that there are often contrasting approaches to the same sort of threat – sometimes even in the same country.
In December, officials representing the two largest school systems in the US received emails warning of threats of attacks by Islamic extremists on the same day. The wording of the emails was almost identical, but whereas all public schools in Los Angeles were ordered to close, their counterparts in New York City remained open, with officials on the east coast having dismissed the threat as a hoax.
Event stakeholders and participants can also adopt different standpoints, leading to a messy fall-out. Just two weeks before the start of the Men’s World Team Squash Championship in the Egyptian capital of Cairo on December 12, several teams, including defending champion England, Canada, Finland, France, Germany and the US, pulled out of the event.
World Squash Federation chief executive Andrew Shelley described the withdrawals at the time as “both disappointing and a little difficult to understand, as there has been no security threat there, unlike for the people of other nations tragically targeted by extremists.”
Just hours later, a petrol bomb attack at a restaurant in Cairo killed 16 people. The WSF released a statement to confirm that the Egyptian Squash Federation had asked for the event to be postponed.
Despite this, Assem Khalifa, the Egyptian Squash Federation president, said that “all arrangements for the holding of the event are in place, including full government support to ensure protection as would be afforded to visiting VIPs,” and insisted “there is no reason for the championship not to proceed.”
In such circumstances, it is necessary to look at the situation objectively, according to Spahn.
“My advice would always be to stay calm and take the emotion out of the situation in the best possible way,” Spahn said. “You need to do your homework, sit together with all stakeholders and come to a mutual decision.
“You must be ready to react too. You don’t just need to be able to react swiftly to reliable intelligence, but you also need to react immediately to wrong information getting into the public domain, as this can cause panic.”
The spectator must be able to identify an official source for information, such as a stadium announcer or an official social media account, he said.
Harrison added that the basics of crowd management, crime and disorder should not be forgotten amongst the broader strategies.
“It is unfortunate that some event organisers are still quite ignorant around crowd issues that can be avoided,” he said. “The science around crowd management and safety has evolved an awful lot over the past decade or two. We put our staff through training in these fields and there are some great new degree courses and diplomas available.”
O’Neill added: “It is important to have strong, effective perimeter security and secure zones should be established so competitors can prepare properly. VIPs and sponsors also expect secure locations so they can enjoy the event.
“For the majority of fans, they will feel reassured by passing through good security and being guided by an effective stewarding presence. You have to start early, be collaborative and run test exercises.”
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