Rio Olympics: The Security Roundup

Rio Olympics: The Security Roundup

A lot of people said it couldn’t be done. Rio de Janeiro was battling rampant crime, protesting police, water pollution and the Zika virus just mere weeks before the Games began in Brazil and countries around the world did not believe the Olympics would be completed without incident.

I’m not saying that the Rio Olympics did not have its fair share of problems, it did. Athletes and coaches from various countries reported robberies at gun or knife point. Several tourists reached to find their wallets or purses to find out they had been pick-pocketed. Journalists covering the Olympic Games found themselves on edge as not once, but twice they were met with stray bullets. Military police unfamiliar with the streets of Rio took a wrong turn and one of them ended up dead, another injured.

Even with all those terrible things, the biggest “security” headline to come out of the Rio Olympics was: “Four U.S. Swimmers Robbed at Gunpoint.” The story has since been criticized for its over-exaggeration and false narrative. This leads me to believe: Perhaps Rio actually pulled off the Olympics.

Over the last 25 years of Summer Olympic Games, there have been several incidents that remind us what could happen when many countries convene together to compete. Perhaps the worst incident was in Atlanta, during the 1996 Olympic Games, when a pipe bomb exploded in Centennial Park, killing one person and wounding more than 100 more who had gathered to enjoy a concert at the venue.

Other tragic events include: the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, the father-in-law, mother-in-law of U.S. men’s volleyball team member and their tour guide were murdered in a knife attack not far from the main Olympic stadium and in 1992, the separatist group, Basque Fatherland and Freedom, known as ETA, plagued Spain with several bombings ahead of the Summer Olympics in Barcelona. Luckily, the group ordered a ceasefire before the Games started.

For every bad thing someone said about the Rio Games leading up to the Opening Ceremony, there is something good to be said. Rio was as prepared for the Games as they could be, and I’m not talking about the water pollution. (That’s a different story.) From a security standpoint, the Games ran rather smoothly and that’s a testament to the 85,000 officers who were brought in to patrol the Olympic Village and arenas and the amount of time taken to section off secure areas for athletes, journalists, tourists and more.

Posted by Sydny Shepard on Aug 23, 2016

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