Rio heightens security for Olympics

IHS Technology research has found that the main threat for visitors to the forthcoming Rio 2016 Olympics will be street robberies and theft – in order to reduce crime and deter violence, the federal government will deploy 85,000 military and security personnel – double the numbers employed during the London 2012 Olympics.

With the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics just a few months away, the city is facing several pressing issues such as crime, civil unrest and counter-terrorism. Also, questions continue to swirl around Rio’s health-service readiness, due to the Zika virus. However, in the latest special report focused on the city’s readiness, business information provider IHS Inc. believes Rio remains well-prepared for the big event.

Crime rates are down in Rio over the last year and murder rates in 2015 were at their lowest level in 24 years, yet even with declining crime in the area, of the five Olympic sites, downtown Rio poses the biggest threat. These crimes of opportunity usually entail an assailant taking wallets, jewellery, mobile phones and purses, sometimes with the threat or use of violence, with women and seniors as the most common targets.

According to IHS, protests in Brazil are not considered criminal behaviour. Still the government has temporarily introduced exceptional measures for the duration of the games in lieu of frequent and spontaneous protests between pro- and anti-government supporters of embattled president, Dilma Rousseff. While the impeachment process is under way, if Rousseff remains in power in August, violence is likely to escalate. “In that event, tensions are likely to be taken to the streets, as demonstrators attempt to garner international attention,” said Carla Selman, Latin American analyst at IHS Country Risk. “Protest hotspots are close to some of the Olympic sites, particularly Copacabana and Rio’s city centre.”

The deployment of 85,000 military and security personnel will help to deter incidents and this saturation of security forces’ presence, together with coordinated intelligence, as with the 2014 World Cup, will help to reduce crime and physical threats to foreign visitors.