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Olympic security expert: Terrorist attack on sports event `just a matter of time'

Olympic security expert: Terrorist attack on sports event `just a matter of time'

A leading Olympic security expert believes it is "just a matter of time" before terrorists target a major sports event.
Peter Ryan, who was in charge of security at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, said the threat was not just to stadiums but also to public areas and electricity stations.
"We have, in my view, been extremely lucky that the first division, as I call the top level of terrorist groups, have not targeted a large, major event for many years," Ryan said Thursday at a sports security conference. "It's probably just a matter of time."
Ryan was also the principal security adviser for the 2004 Athens Olympics. He is a security consultant for the International Olympic Committee on the 2008 Beijing Games.
Ryan said open-air venues where fans watch events on big screens were "extremely vulnerable" to attack. Critical infrastructure _ such as electricity and water supplies _ could also be a target.
"If they go wrong or break down or get attacked, it really will have an incredible effect on the major event," Ryan said. "If an electricity substation goes down, for example, or the water's contaminated, it can have an enormous impact right across many, many areas, not just the event itself."
Ryan said terrorist groups were growing increasingly sophisticated, and the methods of attack would change.
"It's very fortunate that some of them can't put two wires together in the same place properly because the foot soldiers aren't the ones who are necessarily the designers of these weapons or bombs or whatever," Ryan said. "It's just really a matter of time until they get it right."
Ryan also said organizers of major events should consider screening spectators before they get on mass transportation.
"How do we actually screen those people? We've already had attacks on the London Underground system and it could happen again at any time," he said, referring to the July 2005 suicide attacks that killed 52 commuters on three subway trains and a bus.
"Quite often in planning, where I think we've got it wrong is to where we actually put pedestrian screening," Ryan said. "They're too close to the venue."
On Wednesday, the security chief for the 2012 London Olympics, Tarique Ghaffur, said the al-Qaida terrorist group is the top security threat to those games.


Updated : 2021-07-24 23:32 GMT+08:00