The highest security expenditure in Olympic history
[ 2007-09-12 14:48 ]
High-profile events such as the summer and winter Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup and Asian Games, have become among the pre-eminent global spectacles of our time as television, the internet and other communications technologies have brought coverage of them to hundreds of millions of people worldwide. However, this coverage ensures that the attraction of a non-state attack at such an event remains high for any group wishing to publicise its cause.
In recent years, security for Olympic events has been influenced significantly by major terrorist incidents occurring in the lead-up to the games themselves. In the case of Atlanta 1996, the prime security drivers were the bombings of the World Trade Center in New York City in 1993 and the federal government building in Oklahoma City in 1995. The attacks represented a cross-section of the domestic and transnational terrorist threat spectrum faced by the US and Atlanta Olympic planners.
Unsurprisingly, the 2004 Athens Games marked a watershed in major event security planning, as concern was heightened over transnational, non-state threats in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US. The Athens Games therefore created a 'garrison' host city and a 'fortress' Olympics where concerns over the terrorist threat - both foreign and domestic - drove the development of ambitious and expensive security procedures. This in turn has led to a mindset among security planners that a bubble of 'absolute security' is necessary for the duration of the event.
In line with this perception, the cost burden of providing security at such events has risen dramatically. Athens had the highest security bill in Olympic history over 1.5 billion dollars, nearly the fifty times of the Atlanta Olympics..
Also, the Athens Games cost about euro 9 billion (11.6 billion US dollars), making the 2004 Olympics the most expensive in history, because of the massive security and overruns in the last-minute scramble to get venues ready.