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Unique challenges posed by world-class athletic games

By: Marie-Claire Asseko
July 19, 2016

Even small events can provide security personnel significant challenges. Large, complex events require additional layers of planning, diligence, communication, control and contingency to ensure the safety of personal and property.

Few events offer the challenges of the Olympics, set to open in August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It encompasses 37 venues, five of which reside in separate cities. Large numbers of people, both athletes and spectators, will be travelling in and out of the city on short notice, as well as employing the services of hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues. So security is about more than securing the immediate Olympic venues. It’s also about securing local businesses.

When the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games came to Toronto last summer, GardaWorld had the honour of providing additional security to many local companies. It employed a variety of steps to ensure the safety of personal and property throughout the event.

Analyzing risks. For the 2015 Pan Am Games, the first step for GardaWorld was to analyze the level of risk posed by the event for each client.  An agitated crowd might smash windows, break into buildings, injure employees, steal or damage resources. Thus, those businesses closest to the venues suffered the greatest risk. With risk assessed, we then planned appropriate solutions.

Arranging contingency resources. Allocating contingency resources is an economical method of preparing for potential incidents. Rather than permanently assigning additional security personnel to a site, GardaWorld keeps personnel on standby, ready to deploy when and if they are needed. GardaWorld considers its clients as partners to make the most out of their budget and return a higher return on investment. Security is not always about more resources. It is about smarter use of them.

Securing communications. GardaWorld secures communication with the client, ensuring both parties are informed of current situations. Our team also keeps in contact with other local security forces, both public and private. This sharing of information allows all parties to best protect their clients and the public at large.

When crowds become a concern, security personal are embedded within it. These individuals can report back as to the general demeanour of the group or any intentions they display which present a security risk. Adequate actions are then implemented before a danger is actively posed.

Controlling access. If the situation is potentially hostile, security personnel temporarily deny access to exterior doors. In Toronto, this included entryways in the tunnel system. Although these doors already had security systems in place to keep out unauthorized personnel, outsiders could potentially slip in behind authorized individuals. Temporarily locking access points down entirely avoids this scenario.

Enhance visual presence. People are less likely to misbehave if its obvious people are in place to intercede. To that end, posting guards wearing high-profile uniforms provide an effective deterrent.

Those tasked with securing Rio have an even larger task ahead of them. Brazil is in the midst of both political and economic instability. Those agitating factors raise the risk of security incidents considerably. Demonstrators may take advantage of the world’s attention on Rio to drawn extra attention to their plight.

Securing complex environments is a challenging task, but it is one GardaWorld professionals are prepared to effectively handle. Analysis of risk, communication, contingency plans, access control and an enhanced visual presence are all important tools in keeping your employees and property safe even in complex situations.

Learn more about GardaWorld’s special events security services.