Lior Lotan Colonel (Res.) Lior Lotan is a former commander of the elite Sayeret Matkal unit. He has managed risk survey projects and worked as a security consultant at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, and will be advising Brazilian security agencies at the FIFA World Cup in 2014. Get More Articles

Technological & International Cooperation Solution

In the last decade, global terror organizations have demonstrated experience and capability that ranges from shooting incidents, remote detonated explosive devices, short-range rockets, mass hostage taking (as in Moscow’s Dubrovka Theater in October 2002), suicide missions, and even cyber-attacks. These are the kinds of scenarios that security agencies must prepare for at international sporting events.

Principles of the Answer

The purpose of security at international sporting events is to protect the participants and spectators, and enable the games to proceed as scheduled in the spirit of good sportsmanship and in the traditions of the host country.

Due to exorbitant costs, the nature of postmodern terrorism makes it impossible to plan security layouts at international mega-events based on worst-case scenarios. Instead, security plans must be based on threat and risk management in view of probable threats and worst-case scenarios.

Immigration and border authorities in host states must prevent hooligans, criminals, and hostile elements from entering the country while at the same time facilitating the entry of masses of enthusiastic spectators. This calls for state-of-the-art information processing and scanning technologies, along with close international cooperation between police departments, law enforcement agencies, intelligence bodies, and even fan clubs.

The current judicial, legislative, punitive, and law enforcement layouts must be redirected to meet the unique conditions of the games that include public events, a dramatic increase of foreign nationals, and the need to hold the games on time. This requires swiftly prosecuting violators of law and order, short-term detention facilities, redefining expulsion laws, conferring special powers on the police to carry out arrests and searches, and providing volunteers and ushers with special authorizations.

Security elements have to recognize the warning signs of threats; if a harmful event does erupt, it must be kept to a minimum so that the games can continue on schedule.

Screening systems must be able to sift through information collected by sensors, and then select, process, and classify the relevant data in real time so that decisions can be made and appropriate action taken. Command and control centers need to be equipped with the technology capable of transferring situational pictures, relevant data, and instructions to the forces in the field.

Given the unprecedented scale and sophistication of the threats, the challenges facing security layout planners at international mega sporting events are nothing short of daunting.