The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games will be the biggest sporting event ever to be
held in China and the government is making sure that there is no room for
embarrassment with security preparations already well under way.
Dr. Mei Jianming, an
anti-terrorism expert with Chinese People's Public Security University said,
"Security at the Olympics might be challenged by a spectrum of criminal plots,
ranging from minor acts of disturbance to sophisticated acts of mass-terror."
Masked members of a Chinese police
SWAT team attend a ceremony to launch their Olympic security training
programme in Beijing April 27, 2006. Beijing's 40,000 police officers and
any more recruited before the Olympics, will take part in the training
with the majority having language training to deal with the more than two
million visitors expected before and during the games.[Reuters]
Grandpas and grandmas wearing red armbands will scrutinize local communities
in the ancient city, helicopters will carry out aerial patrols and dogs will
join in firefighting.
Behind the scenes, more
sophisticated security preparations are under way, involving the training of
professional security staff and the implementation of high-tech security
apparatus and integrated networking.
Beijing plans to chip in 300 million U.S. dollars on Olympic security, about
one fifth of the total investment. About 90,000 policemen are expected to be
called up for 2008 Olympics Games, along with thousands of security workers and
volunteers, according to the organizing committee of the 2008 Olympic Games.
"The financial input is expected to be much less than that of the Athens
Olympics, because the location of landlocked Beijing is less complicated than
the previous host city," said Mei.
As Mei pointed out, such a high-profile event, gathering tens of thousands of
people from all over the world, naturally raises security concerns.
Olympic anti-terrorist operations have been continually pumped up ever since
the 1972 Munich Olympics, when eleven Israeli athletes and trainers were
murdered in cold blood.
After 9/11, anti-terrorist operations went on steroids. The 2004 Athens
Olympics spent a record 1.5 billion U.S. dollars on security, almost five times
more than that spent at the Sydney Games in 2000.
Lu Shimin, deputy chief of the Beijing Public Security Bureau (BPSB)
commented that, when bidding to host the Olympics in 2001, Beijing made a
preliminary risk analysis including the assessment of potential fire hazards,
illegal invasion into Olympic buildings, urban turmoil, common crimes,
technological problems, traffic safety, natural disasters and terrorist
Many security measures have been considered and publicized, though the more
covert operations have been kept officially 'off the record.'
The latest anti-terror drill was staged in Qingdao, the venue for sailing
events at the Olympics, on December 23, 2006, as part of Beijing's security
preparations for the Games. No specific details about the manoeuvre have been
publicized except it was launched against the backdrop of a hypothetical terror
attack in the form of a biochemical strike on the city.
Beijing established a security team for the 2008 Olympics in December 2004,
marking the commencement of its security preparations. In June last year, as a
major aspect of its preparations for the Games, the city set up a security
headquarters and intelligence center.
The security center will be the backbone of a wide-ranging police network for
the Games. Thousands of closed-circuit television cameras will be scattered
throughout the city and event areas.
Beijing will host more than 20 sports events in the second half of 2007, with
mock security exercises taking place and police officers being stationed at over
100 Olympic venues in preparation for the Games.