International Special Events

By McGee, James A. | The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, January 2006 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

International Special Events


McGee, James A., The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin


The Summer Olympic Games ceremoniously concluded on August 29, 2004, in the heart of Athens, Greece. The culmination of the event was celebrated as testimony to peace and world unity. In retrospect, what factors were employed to ensure a safe and secure athletic contest? This question requires a close examination of the measures taken to address an international special event. (1) It also reveals the necessity to begin security preparations early, well before the occurrence, allowing adequate time to address potential training requirements, exercise emergency response capabilities, and implement appropriate corrective actions. Multiagency and multinational cooperation, coordination, and communication are critically important pieces of the security equation.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The environment for terrorism changed dramatically throughout the world after Greece was awarded the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in 1997. In fact, the tragic events of September 11, 2001, redefined the role and responsibilities of the U.S. government (USG) when addressing special events in foreign countries, and the threat of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests escalated. The risk of deadly aggression during special events increased as the capability of mass media improved, allowing live broadcasts on a worldwide scale. Further, an elevated tendency for terrorist groups to resort to acts of violence and the continued proliferation and accessibility of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) contributed to the threat as well.

Terrorist attacks extended geographically during the months leading up to the opening ceremonies for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games. The escalation of tension due to the war in Iraq and the bombings in Istanbul, Turkey, and Madrid, Spain, raised concerns in Athens. Under the direction of the U.S. Department of State (DOS), unprecedented security measures were employed to prevent a terrorist attack against the Olympic Games.

Historically, the FBI fulfills a fundamental role during USG involvement with special events management, including all of those potentially requiring federal assistance. The FBI's function in special events is defined within numerous statutes and presidential directives. These authorities, combined with the FBI's responsibilities in combating terrorism, provide the predication for FBI commitment.

The Olympic Games represent the clearest example of a special event given the international participation and broad-based viewing audience. Such a scene provides the perfect stage for a terrorist seeking global recognition and a platform to voice political demands. A less obvious example of a special event includes the trial of Timothy McVey, accused and convicted of the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Such a setting also represents an active target for terrorist attack by individuals sympathetic to antigovernment ideologies who seek an opportunity for mass media recognition.

DOMESTIC SPECIAL EVENTS

FBI involvement in special events is generally within the continental United States (CONUS). Given the complexities associated with security preparations and logistics, it is important to understand the protocols in place that provide direction when addressing a domestic special event before examining the enhanced challenges associated with addressing international ones.

Each special event is evaluated in terms of size, threat, significance, duration, location, attendance, media coverage, dignitaries, and viewing audience. The FBI assigns a special event readiness level (SERL) to those that require counterterrorism (CT) support. The SERLs are divided into four categories. SERL I events require the full support of the USG and significant predeployment of USG CT response assets. The Olympic Games fall within this category. Until the 2004 Olympics in Athens, this designation applied to Olympic Games occurring only within the United States.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

International Special Events
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?