Security Costs to Protect 2028 Olympic Games Could Surpass $2B

Technology will play a central role in protecting the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, officials say, with a focus on detection and prevention.

LOS ANGELES — While the cost and strategy of securing the 2028 Olympic Games is near unpredictable at this early juncture, Los Angeles officials and other experts predict the city can expect the bill to run well north of $2 billion.

That rough guestimate is partly based on what Los Angeles was expecting to foot for security costs associated with hosting the 2024 summer games. (In late July, Los Angeles announced a deal with the International Olympic Committee to play host to the 2028 Summer Olympics, giving up a bid for the 2024 Games to Paris.)

Technology will play a central role in protecting the games, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told the Los Angeles Times, with detection and prevention more vital than even show of force. He expects the traditional threats of explosives, guns and other deadly weapons would remain, but a new generation of terror and sabotage will likely evolve.

“It is tough to say,” Beck said of the threats 11 years from now. “I would imagine by that time cybersecurity is going to be all encompassing.”

“It will be the financial security of the Games, the financial security of the city, the protection of infrastructure from hackers,” Beck continued.

The Games are set to be declared a national special security event. The federal government, through the Secret Service, will lead a multiple-agency law enforcement effort. Beck explained the approach is going to be vital because of the vast numbers of personnel needed over so many weeks.

Determining Threats a Decade Out Proves Difficult

Mike Downing, former deputy chief of counterterrorism at the LAPD, told the Times those agencies must not react to an attack like the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing but thwart it.

“It is great to have the firepower, but the prevention side of the equation is so much more important: good intelligence and good disruption,” he said.

Downing, now executive vice president of security for Prevent Advisors who advises major venues, said that at the 1984 Olympics he sat atop a building at UCLA with night vision goggles. Today, the city can be blanketed with cameras aided by facial recognition technology.

“You can put them up and take them down, position them at all major points and use mesh networks to support them,” he said.

Brian Jenkins, senior advisor to Rand Corp.’s president and a top terrorism expert, said history has shown that it is hard to predict the future more than a decade forward, noting that the Arab Spring and its upheaval were not foreseen, nor was the influence of the Internet.

“Ten years out and you are in the entertainment business, not the analysis business,” Jenkins cautioned. But he said weapons and tactics use tend to change more slowly.

The Islamic State probably won’t be the threat it is now in 11 years, but “something else will and I assume it will be terrorist-based,” Beck said.

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