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Security & Surveillance


Boston 2024 likes to talk about the “legacy” component of hosting the Games. However, one of the greatest legacies of hosting the Olympics has been the enlargement of the national security state through new surveillance technologies and the militarization of policing and public spaces. The maintenance of the national security state apparatus diverts resources from genuine social needs and erodes civil liberties. Boston 2024 expects 1 to 2 billion dollars in federal funding for security measures and views the whole city as their “Olympic Park.” Imagine what they plan to buy with that money, and imagine the better Boston we could create if that money were better spent. 









































Looking Ahead to Boston 2024


Bryan Bender, “Olympics in Boston Would Require Unprecedented Security,” Boston Globe, January 10, 2015,


  • “Hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics in an age of terrorism would require a security effort unprecedented in Boston’s history, requiring the efforts of tens of thousands of police officers, soldiers, spies, and private security firms….Some of the city’s neighborhoods would be transformed into something approaching armed camps with security personnel carrying automatic weapons — and possibly even anti-aircraft batteries, according to security specialists familiar with security precautions at recent Olympic games in London and Sochi, Russia.”


Carol Rose and Kade Crockford, “Boston is the US Candidate to Host the 2024 Olympics. Prepare to Have Your Rights Violated,” The Guardian, January 8, 2015,


  • National Security Special Event (NSSE): “That means the Boston Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police would fall under the authority of the US Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security, and Federal Bureau of Investigation, which would be in charge of security operations. All people within the NSSE “security” zone – possibly the entire Boston metro area and beyond – could lose a host of constitutional rights, including the right to protest on public land, and the right to not be searched or questioned absent any reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.”


  • “And for those of us who remember the 2004 DNC in Boston, comments about our city’s efforts then serving as a model for security in 2024 are troubling. In the days leading up to the DNC, authorities built a protest cage for ‘free speech’ sealed by razor wire, overhead netting, and chain fencing, monitored by rooftop snipers.”


  • “Before the DNC, hundreds of federally networked surveillance cameras were put in Boston without any public debate. Those cameras (or more powerful replacements) still watch us a decade later. Subway bag checks started with the DNC, too – but, like so much less-visible surveillance, they didn’t leave with the out-of-town guests.”


  • “Under the NSSE regime, Boston will likely receive substantial federal funding to expand its already unaccountable and secretive surveillance apparatus. Moreover, history suggests that the people targeted by the permanent surveillance regime won’t be elite athletes or business leaders; it will be poor people, communities of color and political activists.”


  • “Before hosting the games in 1996, Atlanta officials arrested more than 9,000 people – most of them black. In Atlanta and in Salt Lake City in 2002, the ACLU sued to challenge antidemocratic secrecy and unconstitutional limits on free speech. In Georgia, for instance, our colleagues noted for the court that the Centennial Olympic Park’s regulations ‘make it a criminal offense to ‘hold vigils or religious services, and other like forms of conduct which principally involve the communication or expression of views or grievances.’’”



Sochi 2014


Owen Matthews, “Russia Tests ‘Total Surveillance’ at the Sochi Olympics,” Newsweek, February 12, 2014,


  • “The 2014 Sochi Olympics have become a giant testing ground for some of the most intensive, extensive and intrusive electronic surveillance operations ever mounted. There's even evidence that criminal hackers are working alongside Russian spies to mine information.”


  • “At the heart of the surveillance armory of the FSB is the 'System of Operative-Investigative Measures' or SORM. First invented in the 1980s to manage phone taps, the latest version - known as SORM-3 -- is essentially a giant vacuum cleaner which scoops all electronic communication from all users all the time, including the contents of all emails, social networks, mobile and voice-over-internet calls, and stores it for future use.”


Dante D’Orazio, “Russian Official Says Government Has Video Surveillance of Sochi Hotel Showers,” The Verge, February 6, 2014,


  • “As journalists have started to flood into Sochi to cover the Olympic games, they've found that their accommodations are a bit rough around the edges. Reports range from broken heating units and dirty tap water to missing trash cans, but Sochi guests may have something more important to worry about than a hastily thrown-together hotel room: their own privacy. Dmitry Kozak, a Russian deputy prime minister in charge of preparations for the Olympics, mistakenly revealed during a press conference that at least some hotel guests are under video surveillance in their own bathrooms.”


Henry Grabar, “The Sochi Olympics: Putin’s Shiny New Surveillance State,” Salon, January 25, 2014,


  • “According to the latest figures from Russia’s Interior Ministry, the 1,500-square-mile “Ring of Steel” surrounding Sochi is composed of the following human elements: 25,000 police (compared to 13,000 in London)…30,000 soldiers (compared to 17,000 in London)…8,000 Interior Ministry troops...the 58th Army, to assist in establishing an Olympic security zone in the contested Georgian territory of Abkhazia, just a couple of miles from Adler.”


  • “In addition to metal detectors and X-rays at various checkpoints, Sochi has been equipped with tens of thousands of cameras. Russia has banned all vehicles not registered in the region. Russian visitors, like their foreign counterparts, must register with police within three days of arrival. The Pentagon has sent two warships to the Black Sea (to join four Russian Grachonok boats), has promised air support and is considering sharing technology used to disrupt remote detonators Anti-ballistic missiles and underwater machine guns stand at the ready.”


Andrei Soldatov, Irina Borogan, and Shaun Walker, “As Sochi Olympic Venues are Built, So are Kremlin’s Surveillance Networks,” The Guardian, October 6, 2013,


  • “At a conference in September 2010, a presentation ordered by the FSB was given on security in Sochi. The presentation, which we have obtained, was mostly about cyber threats, but it also said that Sorm, Russia's main system for intercepting communications, should be significantly updated in Sochi. It also specified this should be done in secret….Sorm's tactical and technical foundations were developed by a KGB research institute in the mid-1980s, and have been updated ever since. Now, the Sorm-1 system captures telephone and mobile phone communications, Sorm-2 intercepts internet traffic, and Sorm-3 collects information from all forms of communication, providing long-term storage of all information and data on subscribers, including actual recordings and locations.”


  • “Since 2010, according to procurement and tender documents collated from the communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, Russian authorities have been busy making sure that Sorm equipment is properly installed in the Sochi region; and several local ISPs were fined when it was discovered they had failed to install Omega, the Sorm device recommended by the FSB.


  • “Mobile networks in Sochi have also been significantly updated. In June, Rostelecom, Russia's national telecom operator, launched a 4G LTE network around Sochi, pledging the fastest Wi-Fi networks in Olympic history, free of charge. But simultaneously, according to documents seen by our investigation, Rostelecom is installing DPI (‘deep packet inspection’) systems on all its mobile networks, a technology which allows the FSB not only to monitor all traffic, but to filter it.”


  • “In March, Russia's communications ministry introduced new Sorm regulations for ISPs. The regulations are the first document in which major servers based in the west, such as Gmail and Yahoo are mentioned as services that should be able to be intercepted. The decree is not yet signed, but the intention is clear.”


  • “Conventional security measures will also be high at Sochi, with more than 40,000 police on duty, more than 5,000 surveillance cameras installed across the city and drones hovering overhead. Sochi will be the first time that surveillance drones have been used at an Olympics, with both the FSB and the interior ministry acquiring drones and planning to use them, according to information in the FSB's in-house magazine….The FSB has also purchased two sonar systems to detect submarines and protect the Olympics from a sea-launched terror attack.”


  • “All protests have been banned during the runup to the Olympics, and the city will be in lockdown with only accredited vehicles allowed to enter.”



London 2012


Stephen Graham, “Olympic 2012 Security: Welcome to Lockdown London,” City: Analysis of Urban Trends, Culture, Theory, Policy, Action 16, no. 4 (August 2012): 446-451,


Kevin Johnson, “Eyes in the Sky Watching Everyone in London, at Olympics,” USA Today, July 31, 2012,


  • “Surveillance cameras are a ubiquitous feature on the urban landscape in London….They hang from light poles, street signs, building facades and train station entrances and exits. They are featured prominently across the city's Olympic venues.”


  • “But the BBC, quoting the research of academics known as the Surveillance Studies Network, has reported that the number of closed-circuit cameras in Britain is more than 4 million…In its own report this year, civil rights advocates known as Big Brother Watch found there were more than 51,000 cameras just under the control of local borough officials throughout Britain — a number that does not include those used by police agencies throughout the country or the federal government.”


Kashmir Hill, “London's Amazingly Explicit Surveillance State Mascot For The 2012 Olympics Has A Huge Camera Eye That ‘Records Everything,’” Forbes, May 17, 2012,


“London’s CCTV Surveillance in Place for Olympics (video),” The Guardian, May 13, 2012,


Robert Booth, “London Rooftops to Carry Missiles During Olympic Games,” The Guardian, April 29, 2012,


  • “Residents in east London are due to have missiles placed on their roofs this week to protect the Olympic Games from airborne terrorist attacks….Military planners at the Ministry of Defence have decided to fit high-velocity rockets with a range of 5km to several apartment blocks close to the Olympic Park. This weekend they informed the occupants of the Lexington Building apartment complex in Bow that a missile battery would be installed this week.”


Robin Tudge, “Every Movement of London’s Olympics Will be Monitored—Including Yours,” The Guardian, February 12, 2012,


  • “The 10,500 athletes participating in the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, the world's greatest celebration of human physical endeavour and progress, will be guarded by a security force of some 40,000. This beats the 3:1 ratio of guards to athletes at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, as the London Games continues the Olympian trend for record-breaking security contingencies.”


  • “The police-led multi-agency National Olympic Coordination Centre co-ordinates the forces to deal with the threats identified in the Olympic Intelligence Centre's ‘national Olympic threat’ assessments, while the Olympic Clearing House is screening 380,000 people, from athletes to voluntary litter pickers, seeking accreditation for the Games. Meanwhile the UK Borders Agency boasts the UK is to be the first country to welcome arriving athletes by funnelling them up dedicated ‘Olympic lanes’ at airports for fast-track fingerprinting.


  • “Houseboaters on the River Lea have been priced out of a controlled mooring zone around the Games, while the £60m Prevent strategy has screened the five Olympic host boroughs for what threat they pose for brewing local extremism, with ‘engagement officers’ dispatched to each borough.”


  • “Random security screening has been carried out on cars parked at Stratford City's Westfield shopping centre, by officers from the staggering 23,700-strong private security contingent of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and G4S.”


  • “Under the host city contract, the chancellor of the exchequer signed a guarantee "bearing the costs of providing security" – a blank cheque signed by the taxpayer for Olympic security planning that industry lobby body the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) has proudly been involved with from the outset.”


  • “Beijing also saw innovations like armed police zipping around on Segways, or tickets inserted with radio-frequency ID chips to enable the real-time tracking of ticket holders.”


  • “Meanwhile, installed gadgetry always finds other uses. CCTV set up to monitor traffic during the Athens Games were later used to monitor public gatherings. In addition, a communications system set up to co-ordinate the Greek emergency services has, at great cost, been expanded into a surveillance command system dealing with "Greek post-Olympic security needs", presumably in great use now in the bankrupt land where the Games were born.”


Vancouver 2010


Kim Murphy, “Providing Security at Vancouver Olympics is a Daunting Task,” Los Angeles Times, February 11, 2010,


  • “The military contingent alone will require nearly twice the 2,500 soldiers Canada has in Afghanistan. Police and contract security agents must screen up to 1.6 million ticket holders and protect 5,500 athletes and officials -- while preparing for domestic protesters, who a year ago announced preparations for ‘Riot 2010.’”


  • “The North American Aerospace Defense Command is providing air and marine surveillance on both sides of the border, while Canadian CF-18 Hornets are prepared to intercept any unauthorized aircraft that might penetrate the tightly restricted airspace around the main Olympic sites in Vancouver and Whistler, located 62 miles away along a twisting mountain highway.”


  • “Military divers have strung floating security booms around the waterside athletes' village and the cruise ships housing some of the 15,500 security personnel assigned to the Games. A naval destroyer and frigate will conduct surveillance patrols.”


  • “The military has deployed a high-tech surveillance system in the Whistler mountains that allows them to loft surveillance cameras and night-vision equipment 500 feet above the terrain, a system used by Canadian armed forces to detect bombs in Afghanistan.”


  • “There will be airport-style security at all Olympic events, with a private contractor handling inspections with 5,000 newly trained employees. Spectators are being advised to arrive two hours early -- three hours in the case of mountain venues -- and to bring only small bags.”


“Olympic Surveillance Cameras Causing Concerns,” CBC News, January 18, 2010,


  • “Security personnel are installing hundreds of closed circuit surveillance cameras around downtown Vancouver in preparation for the Olympics, but questions remain about whether or not many of the cameras will be removed after the Games….By the time the installations are completed over the next 10 days, an estimated 900 RCMP cameras will be eyeing the crowds around Olympic venues like BC Place Stadium and GM Place. They will be watching for possible criminal activity and medical emergencies.”


  • “Another 90 cameras are being set up by the city of Vancouver at the two LiveCity party sites at West Georgia and Cambie Streets and David Lam Park, and along the makeshift pedestrian malls on West Georgia, Granville and Robson Streets.”



Beijing 2008


Ying Yu, Francisco Klauser, and Gerald Chan, “Governing Security at the 2008 Beijing Olympics,” International Journal of the History of Sport 26, no. 3 (2009),


Abstract: As sports mega-events (SMEs) attract growing worldwide attention, the security aspect of these events has assumed greater global importance, especially in the post-9/11 anti-terrorism context. The 2008 Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad set security concern as a top priority. This paper analyses the empirical data derived from fieldwork in Beijing in early 2008 as well as information gathered from official documents and media articles. It presents the types of forces and agencies which shaped the Olympic security plan and explains how the Chinese government integrated its preventive, engaging and repressive strategies. The paper advances a number of preliminary arguments in connection with four main developments at work within the current dynamics of security governance at SMEs: the globalization, technologization, commercialization and standardization of SMEs' securitization.


Naomi Klein, “The Olympics: Unveiling Police State 2.0,” Huffington Post, September 7, 2008,


  • “As for those Chinese citizens who might go off-message during the games -- Tibetan activists, human right campaigners, malcontent bloggers -- hundreds have been thrown in jail in recent months. Anyone still harboring protest plans will no doubt be caught on one of Beijing's 300,000 surveillance cameras and promptly nabbed by a security officer; there are reportedly 100,000 of them on Olympics duty.”


  • “The goal of all this central planning and spying is not to celebrate the glories of Communism, regardless of what China's governing party calls itself. It is to create the ultimate consumer cocoon for Visa cards, Adidas sneakers, China Mobile cell phones, McDonald's happy meals, Tsingtao beer, and UPS delivery -- to name just a few of the official Olympic sponsors. But the hottest new market of all is the surveillance itself. Unlike the police states of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, China has built a Police State 2.0, an entirely for-profit affair that is the latest frontier for the global Disaster Capitalism Complex.”


  • “Chinese corporations financed by U.S. hedge funds, as well as some of American's most powerful corporations -- Cisco, General Electric, Honeywell, Google -- have been working hand in glove with the Chinese government to make this moment possible: networking the closed circuit cameras that peer from every other lamp pole, building the ‘Great Firewall" that allows for remote internet monitoring, and designing those self-censoring search engines.”


  • “Much of the Chinese government's lavish spending on cameras and other surveillance gear has taken place under the banner of ‘Olympic Security.’ But how much is really needed to secure a sporting event?...Many human rights groups have pointed out that China's security upgrade is reaching far beyond Beijing: there are now 660 designated ‘safe cities’ across the country, municipalities that have been singled out to receive new surveillance cameras and other spy gear. And of course all the equipment purchased in the name of Olympics safety -- iris scanners, ‘anti-riot robots’ and facial recognition software -- will stay in China after the games are long gone, free to be directed at striking workers and rural protestors.”


  • “[T]he Olympics have opened up a backdoor for the regime to massively upgrade its systems of population control and repression. And remember when Western companies used to claim that by doing business in China, they were actually spreading freedom and democracy? We are now seeing the reverse: investment in surveillance and censorship gear is helping Beijing to actively repress a new generation of activists before it has the chance to network into a mass movement.”


Dexter Roberts, “Olympic Security is No Game,” Bloomberg Business, August 6, 2008,


  • “General Electric (GE), IBM (IBM), Honeywell (HON), Siemens (SI), Panasonic, and LG have all won major contracts providing security technology for the Olympics—one of the biggest security-business opportunities ever, and a shot at lots of ongoing business for those that get in early. The Chinese are laying out more than four times the $1.5 billion that Athens spent on security in 2004, says the Security Industry Assn., a Washington trade group.”


  • “Nearly 90% of the security equipment used directly in Olympic venues will be supplied by foreigners, the Security Industry Assn. estimates. Honeywell Security has sold intrusion detectors and surveillance cameras for use at more than 10 Olympic venues, including a $20 million contract for the Bird's Nest. Panasonic has provided some 2,000 surveillance cameras for the National Convention Center, site of the fencing competitions and the press center. Siemens sold more than $7 million worth of building-automation and security-control systems for the National Aquatics Center. And an IBM product called Smart Surveillance System, or S3, helps authorities keep track of images from some of the 300,000 video cameras watching for potential troublemakers on the streets of the capital, IDG News Service reported in December. IBM declined to comment.”


  • “Probably no foreign company is more involved in Olympics security than GE. Its gear is installed in 22 venues, and it has 150 technicians on hand in case of breakdowns during the Games. At the Beijing airport the company has supplied seven detection systems that sniff the air for particles indicating that a passerby might be carrying a bomb or drugs. And the newly built subway line No. 10, which skirts the Olympic Village, is using GE video-surveillance devices. All told, 168 buildings in the capital have GE security equipment, and the company recently won the entire security contract for the new headquarters of national broadcaster CCTV, built in part as a showcase for the Olympics. GE declines to say how much the deal is worth.”


Jim Yardley, “Two Concerns for Olympics: Air and Access,” New York Times, July 9, 2008,


  • “Security has become a paramount issue. The authorities have intensified scrutiny of foreign visa holders, cracked down on dissidents and issued orders to local authorities to prevent public disturbances. The Chinese military is supposedly using airplanes, helicopters, warships, missiles, radar and chemical defense as part of the Olympic security effort, according to Chinese media reports. Officials say that 100,000 anti-terrorism forces will be mobilized during the Games and that 300,000 surveillance cameras have been posted in Beijing, according to Legal Daily.”


Turin 2006


Chiara Fonio and Giovanni Pisapia, “Gran Torino: Social and Security Implications of the XX Winter Olympic Games,” in Security Games, eds. Colin Bennett and Kevin Haggerty (London: Routledge, 2012), 137-149,


  • “The operational dynamics of these transporation systems introduced some of the Games’ most significant lasting surveillance legacies as the ‘transportation improvement plan’ involved a considerable use of surveillance technologies.”


  • “Ultimately, the venues and Olympic villages were staffed by a total of 14,184 personnel 274 (State Police, Carabinieri, Financial Police and State Forestry Corps) who deployed 465 metal detectors, 203 X-ray machines, 948 hand held metal detectors and 583 surveillance cameras.”


  • “The technologies/physical equipment utilized through the Olympic venues’ Integrated Security System (ISS), were put into practice with the Lock Down of the venues and consisted of the following….a  2.7 meter high security fence surrounding each venue in the ‘Hard Ring’ …illumination of the perimeter of each venue in the ‘Hard Ring’ and additional critical areas ….a surveillance system that transmitted digital images from fixed and domed cameras to the Venue Security Control Room (VSCR) located inside each Olympic venue…an Anti-Intrusion Detection System designed to detect any unauthorized entry into the Olympic venues’ “Hard Ring’ from possible adversaries…a Venue Security Control Room (VSCR) which was the centre for the coordination and management of TOROC security operations in each Olympic Venue…security patrolling of the Olympic venues’ ‘Hard Ring” perimeter and critical areas.”


  • “In terms of the surveillance dynamics that were at play, the Winter Games resulted in surveillance measures at the venues, but also at the urban level, mainly because of efforts to monitor vehicle flows and to improve the transportation system. Significantly, the Turin Metro system was the first in Italy to use automated driverless light vehicles fully equipped with real time video surveillance. Therefore, the Olympics did increase surveillance far beyond the venues, and these initiatives were portrayed as being necessary in order to renovate the city and to present it to the international community.”


“Soldiers, Surveillance Are in Olympic Security Plan,” Associated Press, January 15, 2006,


  • “About 9,000 police officers have been mobilized for the Olympics, and a central control room is hooked to 21 onsite operational centers - with connections to police and intelligence services of numerous countries. Guards holding automatic rifles keep watch over the competition venues on foot, or in jeeps previously used by peacekeepers in the Balkans.”


  • “The government considered closing Italy's borders, but instead decided to increase controls, particularly at the frontier with France - about 10 miles from Sestriere, hosting Alpine skiing - while guaranteeing free access under the European Union's open borders policy, according to a top security official.”


  • “Air space over the Olympics will be closed, with the Italian air force providing missile protection and maintaining close contact with military allies, the official told The Associated Press. He asked that his name not be used because the ministry has not made official announcements on the measures.”


  • “Last month, Luigi Rinella, the Italian police liaison with the U.S. government, said Italian authorities are conducting surveillance on numerous people through wiretaps and other intelligence operations. He said they include suspected Islamic militants, anti-globalization protesters and anarchists.”


“Italian Officials Refuse to Confirm Surveillance Figures,” Associated Press, December 27, 2005,


  • “Rinella said the surveillance involved telephone wiretaps and other forms of interceptions…He denied a statement attributed to him in a report by USA Today that at least 700 people were being monitored….‘I confirm that we monitor -- that each nation investigates on numerous targets of interest -- numerous,’ he said. ‘What I can't confirm is the number because we don't have numbers to give.’”


Athens 2004


Minas Samatas, “The SAIC-Siemens ‘Super-Panopticon’ in the Athens 2004 Olympics as a Case of ‘McVeillance,’” in The Surveillance-Industrial Complex: A Political Economy of Surveillance, eds. Kirstie Ball and Laurren Snider (London: Routledge, 2013), 61-77,


Minas Simatas, “Security and Surveillance in the Athens 2004 Olympics: Some Lessons from a Troubled Story,” International Criminal Justice Review 17, no. 3 (September 2007): 220-238,


Abstract: This article demythologizes the expedient and costly operation for a “superpanopticon” in the Athens 2004 Olympics, the first Summer Olympic Games after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The Olympic industry, reflecting international and interconnected political—economic, governmental, and corporate interests, exploited real and perceived terrorist threats to prescribe extremely high security requirements. The Athens 2004 Olympics was used as a testing ground for the latest antiterrorist superpanoptic technology, which crucially failed to work. The central surveillance integration security system (C4I), planned by Science Applications International Corporation, could not be implemented on time for the games; hence, the security of the last Athens Olympics was dependent on conventional means. Using primary and secondary sources, the article inquires into the interesting and troublesome story of the deficient electronic surveillance system, which became a technological nightmare. It raises serious skepticism about the real antiterrorist efficiency of high-tech surveillance systems.


Coral Davenport, “Athens Goes ‘Sci-Fi’ for Olympic Security,” Christian Science Monitor, August 12, 2004,


  • “It sounds like something from a futuristic fantasy: a vast computer surveillance network with thousands of hidden cameras and microphones that analyzes dozens of languages for terrorist chatter. It also includes chemical sensors that can pick up the first whiff of a biological attack, cameras that swivel and zoom at the sound of a gunshot, and a web of underwater cables and infrared cameras that detect the slightest threatening movement…It's not a scenario from a Steven Spielberg blockbuster - rather, it's just a fraction of the biggest security network ever put in place for a nonmilitary operation: the $1.5 billion international effort set to protect Athens during the first post-9/11 summer Olympics.”


  • There is far more in place than high-tech gadgets. This Olympics will also be protected by an arsenal of Patriot missiles, AWACS planes, US battleships, and 70,000 police officers.”


  • “One definite legacy will be the overarching role security plays in all future Olympic planning, from sky-high budgets and international involvement to a shortened list of cities that will be eligible to host.”


Brock Meeks, “Record Expense, Security Plans Set for Olympics,” NBC News, July 30, 2004,


  • “There will be boots on the ground, eyes and ears all around Athens and outlying venues. ‘We’ll even have eyes in the sky,’ said one security consultant working with the Olympic committee, referring to the blimp that will hover over Athens around the clock.  The 200-foot blimp has high resolution cameras on board as well as sensitive chemical ‘sniffers’ that will set off alarms should chemical weapons be deployed.”


  • “The Greek government will deploy 70,000 people from various parts of the military and police forces, said George Voulgarakis, Greece’s ministry of public order…‘The whole country will be considered as a theater of operations,’ according to an official Olympic security statement.”


  • “At the heart of that umbrella is the sophisticated command, control, communications, computers and intelligence network, dubbed C4I, from San Diego-based Science Applications International Corp., that provides the real time intelligence communication capability for all Olympic security forces….The C4I system will provide a digital, encrypted communications network that is capable of providing real-time picture, sound and data. All that will be fed by a network of more than 1,400 high resolution cameras hung on every column, every lamp post and looking into virtually every nook and cranny throughout Athens. “


  • “All Olympic vehicles will have global positioning system devices installed enabling Olympic officials to track each car or truck on a minute-to-minute basis.  The system can tell how fast a particular car or truck is going and whether the driver stopped off for a 15-minute espresso break.”


  • “The Olympic Village itself will resemble nothing short of a fortress.  The village, located in northern Athens, will be ringed by a double layer of steel-reinforced walls to deter would-be suicide bombers.”


  • “The port has been wired with a fiber-optic network of cameras, sensors and other intelligence-gathering devices.  It will be guarded around the clock by a contingent of 2,500 persons from the Greek Navy and Special Forces teams.”


  • About 41,000 police will keep watch over the warp and woof of daily Olympic life as well as keeping watch over hotels, Greek officials said. An additional 20,000 military personnel will be deployed to the games as well.”


  • “At Greece's request, the U.S. is sending 400 Special Forces soldiers to help protect the games, a U.S. counterterrorism official said. It is not yet decided whether the armed soldiers would be in Athens, the nearby island of Crete or remain on alert in Europe, where they are based in Germany. ..In addition, NATO has agreed to deploy surveillance planes, maritime patrols and a force to deal with potential chemical and biological attacks.  An eight-ship NATO fleet will patrol Aegean international waters, south of the island of Crete. Greek military vessels will guard Greek national waters.”



Salt Lake City 2002


Chris Chase, “Report: NSA spied on Salt Lake City before 2002 Olympics” USA Today, August 21, 2013,


  • “For the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, officials say, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and NSA arranged with Qwest Communications International Inc. to use intercept equipment for a period of less than six months around the time of the event. It monitored the content of all email and text communications in the Salt Lake City area.”


Michael Janofsky, “A Nation Challenged: Salt Lake Security; New Look for the Olympics: Warplanes and Troop Patrols,” New York Times, January 10, 2002,


  • “In addition to the heavy military deployment, visitors will feel the security measures at nearly every turn. Customs officials will check every visitor against State Department watch lists. Entrances to events will be heavily guarded. And for the first time, every federal, state and local law enforcement agency will operate from the same downtown command center.”


  • “The federal component and overall costs are so large in dollars and personnel that Mitt Romney, president of the organizing committee, questioned whether the United States should remain in the business of being a host for the Olympics.”


  • “Secret Service agents will be used to secure all areas used for Olympic events. In the past, their role was confined to protecting the president and other dignitaries. The expanded presence represents the federal government's largest security investment, $27.2 million, according to the government report.”


  • “For the first time in an Olympics in the United States -- this is the eighth since 1904 -- all law agencies, as well as military commanders, will operate as part of a unified Utah Olympic Public Safety Command.”


  • “Airspace over northern Utah will be heavily guarded, with Awacs surveillance planes on routine missions, F-16's from nearby Hill Air Force Base on alert and added radar operating at Salt Lake City International Airport, where plans call for commercial traffic to be stopped at various times, including the opening and closing ceremonies.”


  • “In another new effort, the State Department and the Immigration and Naturalization Service are pooling resources to create an instant check on foreign visitors through a database that will let Customs officers determine immediately whether an Olympic athlete or official is on a United States watch list.”


  • “In addition, military forces will be stationed in and around the city. Mr. Romney said the commitment could reach up to 10,000 troops, including more than 2,000 from the Utah National Guard, the largest call-up ever in the state.”


Sydney 2000


Kristine Toohey and Tracy Taylor, “Surveillance and Securitization: A Forgotten Sydney Olympic Legacy,” International Review of the Sociology of Sport 47, no. 3 (June 2012): 324-337,


Abstract: The Sydney 2000 Olympic Games were the last Olympic Games held before 9/11. Even though the 2000 Games were held prior to this landmark terrorist incident, Australia implemented a range of increased security processes to safeguard the Games. As such, the Sydney Games provide a compelling case study to examine how Olympic security measures were implemented before and during the Games and how some of these have remained as an Olympic legacy in the post-9/11 era. At the time, the arguments for stringent protection ranged from the need for safety of persons to safeguarding the Australian image or ‘brand’. Many of the measures introduced were low key, for example the introduction of specifically formulated legislation which significantly broadened police powers, and these have remained as a tangible Games legacy. The escalation of concerns for safety beyond the Australian context and the extrapolation of these onto the global stage are an intangible legacy.


Helen Jefferson Lenskyj, “Police, Protest, and Olympic Legislation: ‘You’ve Got to Keep the Buggers under Control,’” in The Best Olympics Ever? Social Impacts of Sydney 2000 (Albany: SUNY Press, 2002), 43-66.


  • “The Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) participation in Olympic security involved about 4,000 military personnel, whose Olympic-related duties included searches of venues and vehicles, bomb searches, and bomb disposal. A March 16, 2000 press release from the attorney general’s and defense minister’s offices pointed out that this number was almost equivalent to Australia’s first military contingent to support UN peace-keeping efforts in East Timor—a claim that could well be interpreted as security ‘overkill’ in the case of the Olympics and indisputable evidence to support claims that NSW would be in a de facto state of emergency” (45)


  • “The training of ‘counterterrorism units,’ which included mock storming of jumbo jets and police-military searches of motor vehicles, began in 1999. In May 2000, a three-day counterterrorist exercise involving the army’s Special Air Service incurred $100,000 in damages to the Blacktown softball stadium, defended by NSW Police Commmissioner Peter Ryan in the cause of ‘realism’” (46).


  • “In the months leading up to the Olympics, nighttime helicopter exercises regularly succeeded in keeping thousands of western suburbs and inner-city residents awake. In May 2000, three military helicopters were being deployed for ‘the real things,’ as they hovered over the headland at Bondi Beach during the antistadium protests, in a transparent display of police and military muscle against about 150 unarmed men, women, and children engaged in nonviolent protest” (46).


  • “Ostensibly in the interests of security, public exclusion zones within Sydney Harbor, and no-fly zones over outdoor Olympic venues were to be established and patrolled. However, in light of sponsors’ and television networks’ demands that attempts at ambush marketing (advertising by competitors of the official Olympic sponsors) or unlicensed filming be suppressed, it is clear that the policing of these zones served commercial as well as security interests. Indeed, a 1999 Herald story revealed that volunteer law students would be used to search spectators for ‘illegal’ items such as flags, or banners with political or commercial message” (47)


  • “…On the contrary, as human rights advocates argued, Olympic-related legislation was in contravention of United Nations provisions for freedom of movement and protection from arbitrary arrest” (51)


  • “…In short, when authorized officers targeted a particular person, they could call upon a wide range of behaviors, most of which were open to a wide range of interpretations , in order to eject or charge that person” (55)


Vivek Chaudhary, “Sydney in Grip of Olympic Security,” The Guardian, September 14, 2000,


  • “The opening ceremony of the 27th Olympic Games, the biggest and most costly event ever to be held in Australia, takes place today amid the biggest security operation in the country's history, for fear of terrorist attack or demonstrations. ….In the light of the bomb blast at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996, in which two people were killed and 110 injured, draconian measures, known as the Olympic security laws, have been pushed through parliament, bringing criticism from civil rights groups. Around 20,000 police officers, private security guards and army personnel will be on duty during the two weeks of the games, which have cost £1bn to stage.”


  • “A shoot on sight law gives the government the right to draft soldiers on to the streets and open fire on people, if they are considered to be a risk to security.


  • “Police have the power to search and photograph people and take them away if they are believed to be creating an ‘annoyance’ or ‘inconvenience’ in Sydney or in and around the Olympic park.”


  • “Any activity or demonstration requires permission from the police, while people can be searched without permission, prevented from distributing material of any sort and barred from collecting money.”


  • “More than 100 navy divers have been brought in to search Sydney's harbours, where events such as the triathlon and sailing will take place.”


Cross-Game Analysis


Philip Boyle and Kevin Haggerty, “Spectacular Security: Mega-Events and the Security Complex,” International Political Sociology 3, no. 3 (September 2009): 257-274,


Abstract: In Discipline and Punish Foucault famously declares that “our society is one not of spectacle, but of surveillance.” Our theoretical aim in this paper is to problematize Foucault’s strict demarcation between spectacle and surveillance through an analysis of urban mega-events. In the process, we detail emerging features of contemporary mega-events that shape and are shaped by shifts in the field of security and surveillance more broadly. Three dynamics in particular warrant consideration: the move toward a precautionary logic among security planners, a “semiotic shift” wherein security iconography is integrally bound up with the production of contemporary urban spectacles, and various forms of security and surveillance legacies that circulate beyond the spatial and temporal frame of the event itself. While mega-events support Foucault’s assertion of the dispersal of discipline across the social field, they also suggest that this dispersal occurs in concert with, not in spite of, the power of the spectacle in contemporary society.



Richard Giulianotti and Francisco Klauser, “Security Governance and Sport Mega-events: Toward an Interdisciplinary Research Agenda,” Journal of Sport and Social Issues 34, no. 1 (February 2010): 49-61,


Abstract: In the post-9/11 context, security issues have become increasingly central to the hosting of sport mega-events (SMEs). Security budgets for events like the Olympic Games now run into billions of dollars. This article seeks to advance the emerging field of SME security research in substantive and analytical terms. We identify three sets of issues and problems that are taking shape within this field: first, comparative issues in relationship to the Global North and Global South, notably given the growing number of SMEs set to be staged in the Global South; second, various risks and security strategies that are specific to different SMEs, including perceived terrorist threats, spectator violence, and broader risks associated with poverty, social divisions, and urban crime; and third, the security legacies that follow from SMEs, such as new surveillance technologies, new security-focused social policies, and security-influenced urban redevelopment. We argue that future research into SME security governance should be underpinned by a synthetic theoretical framework. This framework brings together three particular strands: first, a sociological approach that explores the _security field,_ drawing in part on Bourdieu; second, critical urban geographical theory, which contextualizes security strategies in relationship to new architectures of social control and consumption in urban settings; and third, different strands of risk theory, notably in regard to reflexive modernization, governmentality, and cultural sociological questions.


Minas Samatas, “Surveillance in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008: A Comparison of the Olympic Surveillance Modalities and Legacies in Two Different Olympic Host Regimes,” Urban Studies 48, no. 15 (2011): 3347-3366,


Abstract: All post-9/11 Olympic Games and sport mega events deploy super-surveillance systems, as a future security investment, albeit at the expense of rights and freedoms. This paper compares the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Olympic Games’ surveillance systems, to assess their authoritarian effects and legacies in democratic and authoritarian Olympic host regimes. In democratic Greece, memories of the dictatorship have caused reaction and resistance to the perpetuation of the Olympic surveillance systems. In China, the police state has used these systems for Olympic and regime security, reinforcing population and Internet control. Drawing on these two cases, it is demonstrated that post-9/11 Olympic security and surveillance have authoritarian effects, which are dependent on global factors like anti-terrorist and neo-liberal policies, and local factors such as the type of host regime, culture and society. It is also argued that these surveillance systems have an emerging anti-democratic legacy which stretches beyond the hosting of the Olympics.



Minas Samatas, “Surveillance in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008: A Comparison of the Olympic Surveillance Modalities and Legacies in Two Different Olympic Host Regimes,” Urban Studies 48, no. 15 (2011): 3347-3366,


Abstract: All post-9/11 Olympic Games and sport mega events deploy super-surveillance systems, as a future security investment, albeit at the expense of rights and freedoms. This paper compares the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Olympic Games’ surveillance systems, to assess their authoritarian effects and legacies in democratic and authoritarian Olympic host regimes. In democratic Greece, memories of the dictatorship have caused reaction and resistance to the perpetuation of the Olympic surveillance systems. In China, the police state has used these systems for Olympic and regime security, reinforcing population and Internet control. Drawing on these two cases, it is demonstrated that post-9/11 Olympic security and surveillance have authoritarian effects, which are dependent on global factors like anti-terrorist and neo-liberal policies, and local factors such as the type of host regime, culture and society. It is also argued that these surveillance systems have an emerging anti-democratic legacy which stretches beyond the hosting of the Olympics.



John Sugden, “Watched by the Games: Surveillance and Security at the Olympics,” International Review for the Sociology of Sport 47, no.3 (June 2012), 414-429,


Abstract: Every four years the Summer Olympic Games fires the imagination of the largest and most diverse sport spectatorship and entices them in their hundreds of thousands to some of the First World’s most iconic and crowded cities. In addition, the ideological symbolism associated with the Olympic Games is rooted in Western, liberal democratic values and traditions. For those who do not share these ideals the Olympics represent something to stand against and, in extremity, disrupt and violate. In short, in a post-9/11 world, the Olympics provide a mouth-watering target for terrorists. Using themes of surveillance drawn from Bentham and Foucault, this article analyses the nature of the terrorist threat and scale of the security operation designed to ensure the safety of the London 2012 Olympic Games. It concludes by considering the consequences of these measures on the city of London, particularly in terms of the civil liberties of its citizenry.


Colin Bennett and Kevin Haggerty, eds., Security Games: Surveillance and Control at Mega-Events (London: Routledge, 2012).




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