Striking the Balance

Last Friday the European soccer tournament commenced with Romania against France. Many people in Canada with European ancestry will be following the games closely, some even attending a game in Europe. There are others that are deciding to stay away from the stadiums, due to the fear of another terrorist attack, specifically in France.

Unfortunately for me (being from the Netherlands), the Dutch did not qualify for this tournament. This is somewhat surprising as they did well in the last World Cup and have some of the best players in the world. Several sports journalists and psychologists have commented on this and claim that the lack of the performance by the Dutch has to do with their mental state of mind. Possibly underestimating the opponents, becoming arrogant and losing unexpectedly. After this happens, they become uncertain, start making more mistakes and play under their capacity, leading to another loss.

In the world of security, in particular, a terrorist threat, the risks can easily be under or overestimated as well. The consequence may be that there is insufficient security, putting people in potential danger. Overestimation of risk can lead to more radical measures such as cancelling games or the whole tournament. There needs to be a balance. Security experts have to identify realistic threats, lower the risk by taking effective measures and still ensure that spectators can enjoy an event, such as the European Championship.

Just days before the championship kicked off, Ukraine security services said they had arrested a Frenchman and an accomplice who were planning attacks on French targets before and during the tournament. The arrests are a reminder that the soccer tournament faces more terrorism threats than just ISIS.

One of the new risks that have been identified are drones flying into a soccer stadium crammed with spectators. The drone may be equipped with just a camera, or something more sinister such as toxic chemicals. Either way, the unauthorized flying machine would be violating a no-fly zone. Taking no chances, organizers have deployed new technology in 10 French cities to protect against unwanted airborne intruders.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Euro 2016 security chief Ziad Khoury said,”We’ve noted the general proliferation of drone-usage in society, so no-fly zones will be defined over every training ground and every stadium, and in most stadiums and for most matches anti-drone measures — which are quite innovative — will be deployed, working with the state, which will interfere with drones and take control of them if they are spotted.”

French authorities have recorded dozens of mystery drones flying over sensitive sites (mostly nuclear facilities), but also military installations and even the presidential palace. In response, the government is funding research into technology that could interfere with or jam signals that control drones, or even destroy them.

Understanding the type of security measures being taken will hopefully help ease the minds of spectators and let them enjoy the experience of seeing games live instead of on TV. Hopefully, the event will turn out to be a great spectacle with no unexpected security breach. Let the best team win.



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