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Testimony Given at a Competition, Foreign Commerce, and Infrastructure Hearing:
Lessons Learned from Security at Past Olympic Games
Tuesday, May 4 2004 - 2:30 PM - SR - 253

The Testimony of Mr. David Maples
Johnson, Maples, and Associates

Chairman Smith, Members of the Committee

I appreciate the invitation to appear before you to discuss security measures taken by organizing committees and public officials on behalf of those who attended or participated in past Olympic Games, and how lessons learned from these past events may serve to ensure better security for future Olympic Games.

Given the enormity of the Games, including the extraordinary number of nations that participate, and its worldwide audience, the Olympic Games present a tempting target for a wide variety of disruptive activities, from simple demonstrations to violent acts of terrorism.

Of course, the goal of the host country is to provide a secure environment for the staging of the Olympic Games. The success of this endeavor is critical to the presentation of the world’s largest and most widely viewed sporting event.

There are factors, such as applicable laws, governmental structure, jurisdictional authority, available assets and culture, that govern or influence planning and ultimately the security measures taken by federal, state and local level officials of any host nation. Additionally, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is an international non-government, non-profit organization that owns all rights to the Olympic Games and dictates specific rules under which the Games are organized and presented. It is also the umbrella organization of the Olympic Movement which includes the National Olympic Committees, International Sports Federations, and various other organizations and institutions recognized by the IOC as well as the host city organizing committee.

The makeup of past organizing committees has varied greatly, from including direct government representation to that of being solely private, as is done in the U.S. During the course of its planning, the organizing committee makes many decisions, such as venue selection, venue design, policies regarding admission to events or access to athlete housing and training sites, pre-event protection of property and assets, Olympic family housing, accreditation, and use of private security, that impact security planning measures. The host country government structure and its representation, or lack thereof, in the organizing committee affects the degree of authority and participation government security forces exercise inside properties and facilities owned, contracted to or used by the Olympic family.

Government Olympic security efforts are focused on issues of public safety. In general terms, preparations are divided into topics of Intelligence, Investigation, Physical Security, Emergency Response to Incidents, and Mitigation of Incidents. Due to unique jurisdictional, legislative and budgetary issues as well as widely different capabilities, all agencies recognize that planning and operational execution requires an immense amount of interagency communication and cooperation.

The tragic incident during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany certainly changed the world’s view of the standard of security necessary for the Games. The subsequent expectations of the IOC, athletes, delegations and spectators for extraordinary security at Olympic Games have been met by successively increased government commitment to security and expenditures. In recent years, as terrorist activity has increased, and the methods used to strike have become more sophisticated, efforts to protect the Games have become more complex and expensive.

I would like to briefly illustrate this to you using examples of four recent summer Olympic Games.

Los Angeles – 1984

When Tehran, the only other city bidding for the 1984 Olympic Games, withdrew, Los Angeles was awarded the Games by the IOC, but the issue of financing became an obstacle to the city signing a contract. In an unprecedented move by the IOC, the financial liability for the Games was removed from the City of Los Angeles and placed on a private organizing committee. The Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee (LAOOC) was the first private committee, without official ties to government, to organize and operate the Olympic Games. As such, LAOOC’s philosophy was to be as economic as possible while still presenting a complete Olympics. The presentation of the Games was financed by the private sector, without government subsidies or taxpayer contributions, but the costs of protecting the Games greatly exceeded agencies normal operating budgets.

This greatly impacted federal, state and local organizations that had a duty to provide for the public safety. Use of as many existing facilities as possible spread the core of the Games over seven southern California counties, with preliminary soccer events in Massachusetts and Maryland. By and large, LAOOC did not request specific security services from government and therefore was not obligated to pay for them. Only a small portion of local governments’ security costs were financially assumed by LAOOC.

Before the Organizing Committee was actively involved in security planning for the Games, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the FBI took the lead and coordinated security planning. The cornerstone of the planning, which continued through the Games, was the recognition of jurisdictional autonomy. Sixteen topics formed the basis for the security planning structure. They were Accreditation, Air Support, Bombs/Explosive Devices, Communications, Community Relations, Crime Prevention, Criminal Justice, Dignitary Protection, Emergency Response, Intelligence, International Entry, In Transit Security, Olympic Village Security, Traffic Control, Training, Transportation and Venue/Vital Point Security.

The federal government supplemented local law enforcement agencies with approximately $50 million of logistical support equipment that they needed to provide adequate security for the Games, including communications equipment, helicopters, intrusion detection systems for the villages and miscellaneous medical equipment.

The security department of LAOCC, which had no law enforcement authority, took the responsibility for protecting property and assets belonging to LAOOC, providing accreditation control at the villages, venues and training sites, providing security for IOC officials, and protecting special interest areas such as press and broadcast zones and accreditation, illegal substance control and computer centers.

Recognizing that many more agencies had need for Olympic related intelligence than were involved in intelligence collection, the FBI hosted a center that received information from national, state and local agencies, and distributed pertinent information to agencies and organizations with protection responsibilities.

In all, some 7000 law enforcement officers were committed to the Games, with substantial federal assets poised to respond to breaches of security, mass medical emergencies or threats that were beyond the capacity of local or state agencies.

The Los Angeles Olympics established the public safety-organizing committee relationship that has in large measure carried through subsequent Olympic Games hosted in the United States.

Seoul – 1988

The presentation of the XXIVth Olympiad was fully supported and directed by the Republic of Korea Government. The Seoul Olympic Organizing Committee (SLOOC) was formed in 1981.

The organizational structure of security for the Olympic Games was divided into two parts. The SLOOC had a security department that was responsible for overall coordination between the SLOOC Games Operations Division and the government security. It had planning responsibility in areas of opening and closing ceremonies, 34 competition venues, 72 practice sites, the cultural events and the Olympic torch relay.

The government security operation was headed by the Committee for Security Measures. This was the policy making body for security for the Games and was chaired by the Director of the Agency for National Security Planning (NSP) with members from 12 government agencies.

Day to day planning and operations for security of the Games focused at the Security Coordination and Control Headquarters which was responsible for overall planning, coordination and control of security operations for the Olympic Games. It was headed by a deputy director in the NSP with assistant directors for NSP affairs, Korean National Police affairs and military affairs.

There were nine security divisions to address major security topics. They were Planning, Counterterrorism, Technical Support, Intelligence, Venue Protection, Personnel and VIP Security, Athletes Village Protection, Traffic Coordination and Training.

Physical security duties for the various sites and functions were assigned either to the Korean National Police or Korean military units. The Korean National Police committed over 47,000 officers to Olympic security and the military committed over 42,000 personnel.

Before and during the Olympic Games, there were approximately 42,000 U. S. military personnel assigned in the Republic of Korea. The U.S. military Olympic security responsibilities related primarily to the protection of U.S. military personnel and property. It was proactive in training and exercise with the Korean military.

The 1988 Games underscored the necessity for cooperation and mutual support in the international community of law enforcement, not only in training matters, but in the execution of the security itself. For example, air travel was, and will continue to be, a primary means of transport to an Olympic host country. In a time before the high level of screening that is in place today, not only did the host country have stringent security, but obtained the cooperation of other airports that formed the feeder system to Seoul to participate in the security envelope.

Barcelona – 1992

The makeup of the Barcelona Organizing Committee (COOB’92) reflected the active participation of the Spanish Government in the planning and operation of the 1992 Games. COOB’92 was composed of representatives from Spain’s Olympic Committee, Barcelona City Council, Generalitat of Catalonia and the Spanish Government. The mayor of Barcelona was the president of COOB’92.

COOB’92 formed a security department to identify and resolve organizing committee security issues during the planning phase to develop COOB’92’s portion of the Master Security Plan and to implement COOB’92 security responsibilities during the Games.

Spain constituted the Higher Commission for Olympic Security in June, 1987 with the Secretary of State for Security as chairman and charged with the responsibility of directing, planning, preparing and implementing security operations. In 1988 a security model was adopted that integrated public and private resources under the authority of the Commission for Olympic Security and integrated the efforts of the National Police, the Guardia Civil, the Mossos d’Esquadra (Catalan Police), the Barcelona City Police, other local police forces, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.

The administrative instrument was the Olympic Security Master Plan which consisted of 86 security project areas from national issues, such as intelligence, frontier security and control of territorial waters to Games specific issues, such as Olympic village security, accreditation and information security. Security and emergency response capabilities to address specific risks, such as power supply, water supply, telecommunications, dangerous materials, transportation systems were assigned to the Catelonian government and Department of Public Safety.

Due to the locations of the venues, training sites, athletes’ village and official hotels, the National Police had responsibility for about 80% of the Olympic facilities security. The Guardia Civil had jurisdiction at the airports, the port of Barcelona, four venues and essential public services such as water, fuel and electric supplies, broadcast stations, telephone relay points and transportation services.

Mossos d’Esquadra protected two competition venues and took part in crime prevention activities.

Barcelona City Police took charge of traffic and street public safety issues.

The Army supported the Guardia Civil and COOB’92. The Air Force provided protection of the air space and the Navy provided security of water competition areas and territorial waters.

One aspect of the Barcelona Games was the use of cruise ships in the port for housing of guests of the corporate sponsors. Extensive sea side as well as port side security measures were taken to protect the 15 large ships.

Approximately 25,000 law enforcement personnel and numerous support personnel were committed to security of the Barcelona Games.

Atlanta – 1996

The Olympic Games trended toward being larger and more complex each four years. The Atlanta organizing committee promoted their Games as being larger than Los Angeles and Barcelona combined. However, Atlanta had far fewer law enforcement assets than either Los Angeles or Barcelona.

Because of the similarity of local government structures in the U.S. in 1993, Atlanta adopted the Los Angeles Olympic Security planning model, and the security planning topics were virtually the same. A concern from the beginning was the shortfall between the generally agreed number of security personnel needed for Games the size of Atlanta (approximately 30,000) and the number calculated to be available (approximately 8,000). Ultimately a combination of state, local, federal, military, private security and volunteers were used to staff the security functions.

Other public safety services were part of security operations which included expansion of trauma capabilities at local hospitals, coordination with area hospitals, coordination with public health services and the American Red Cross. The security plan included the integration of law enforcement, medical, mass care, shelter, fire and emergency management into a consolidated response capability. This planning was a critical factor in the organized response to the pipe bomb that was detonated in Centennial Park, killing one person and injuring approximately 110.

Many federal assets were temporarily located in Atlanta for the Games, including capabilities to respond to conventional explosives, chemical or biological threats and hostage situations.


The Olympic Movement tries to contribute to a peaceful better world through sport and to generate mutual understanding through a spirit of friendship and fair play. As our world becomes more complex, the challenges faced by security forces that have the responsibility to preserve an environment that allows participants and spectators alike to gather at the Olympic Games in the spirit of the Games, continue to escalate.

When Los Angeles hosted the 1932 Olympic Games security consisted of police motorcycle officers to direct traffic near the stadium and a horseback officer to patrol around the athletes’ housing. Athens estimates its Olympic Games security costs will be $800 million, plus the support of security forces from several other countries. Security forces must prepare to prevent or respond to threats unimagined to previous Games.