Here today gone tomorrow-International gatherings and sporting events; security threats and concerns


Where to now?

Where to now?

International events such as major product launches, corporate meetings, annual or regular sporting events continue to fall outside the standard methodology and practices of risk and people risk management. Many organizations and individuals, also fail to anticipate or include this in travel risk management strategies for leisure or non-corporate travel.

The bigger the event; often the greater lack of oversight. Many organizations and planners have gotten themselves into what they consider ‘ a well rehearsed process’. However, given the continual growth in this area, one event could be just one of dozens or even hundreds on their annual calendar. Therefore, some planning groups do not even start their planning for these events until mere weeks before the start of the event.  They have become so familiar with the process (in their minds) that they simply template their planning preparation and even the threat profiles.

Issue motivated groups, criminals and even terrorists all have wants and needs. Along with these wants and needs, there a number of capabilities, intent and even historical success that are required before they can even be considered to be truly a threat.  More often than not, criminals and terrorists prefer people over places. Meaning; they will go to where the people are, particular if they gather in large numbers. It often has less to do about location than the accessibility and opportunity for victims or attention. Increasingly, terrorist and issue motivated groups, are about striking at social activities rather than iconic landmark locations. This means that many are at walking into the exact locations or circumstances preferred by both criminals and terrorists alike. In recent times sporting events have even been high on the list of preferred locations. Even athletes have become preferred targets.

Online bookings, cheaper airfares, product launches, the thrill of seeing your star athletes perform live are all increasingly motivating more and more people to travel to these major events and super events. This can in turn result in small or moderate sized cities and locations expanding well beyond their infrastructure capacity or overburdening everything from amenities to emergency services. The planning and preparation vary from city-to-city, location-to-location and even encompass cultural limitations. One should never assume that one particular event held in different locations is even remotely close to the same standard of planning, preparation or resources met with at the last.

Over the course of the next few months, everything from the soccer World Cup to the Shanghai Expo will see hundreds of thousands or millions of travellers descend on individual or clusters of location. These events to, have persistent and specific threats that will affect all travellers and attendees. They will range from the minor and routine, the life-threatening or catastrophic.

Part of the threat are travellers or attendees themselves.  In simple terms you should know before you go. Understanding, adapting and preparing for the local circumstances, rather than just transit or your location of origin, is far more important if not pivotal to determine the success of an overall trip. Many times; Google just does not cut it! One should have accurate and specific advice that helps shape your decision planning an even logistics. Increasingly companies are providing this on behalf of their employees.

Local standards vary. The nature and even the scope of services provided at many of these events are likely to be different to what you may be accustomed at home. You may think it remote, or even unlikely to require such services but you should at least pay attention in order to understand how they will work in the event of an incident, accident or even an emergency.

Plan. Set time aside, to research study and understand the location and even the event in which you are travelling to enjoy. If you have resources to draw upon, use them. If not, seek them out, share and collaborate; but do not omit. It’s not so much the plan that’s important, it’s the planning.

Manage. All journeys (regardless of planning) present choices at various stages of the event. Informed and wise choices are based on the extent and knowledge applied to those particular choices. Ad hoc, ill informed, or simply cavalier choices often result in dangerous outcomes. Ensure you remain updated to changing circumstances. Maintain awareness of your activities and the surroundings in which you’re travelling.  This should be applied to every stage from arrivals, transit to hotels, travel between events and locations; up to and including your return to the airport and subsequent departure.

Actions. Think through plausible scenarios in advance. Consider what resources may be required. Complement those resources with your applied knowledge and access to support services. Should anything occur, that requires even the most routine of responses up to an inclusive life safety and security incidents, your understanding in advance will determine or govern a successful outcome. This should by no means be an individual undertaking, and all travellers or attendees should consider leveraging from other support networks.

Bad things happen to good people all the time. It’s just a fraction of the overall time required to be spent on planning, managing and determining actions, that will determine the success of any incident, big or small.

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About Tony Ridley
Travel health, safety, security and risk management expert.

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