Security tightens in Rio as Olympics opening nears

Rick Olivares

Posted at Jul 28 2016 09:06 PM

Col. Jeff Tamayo, security officer for the Philippine delegation to the Rio Olympics briefs RP athletes about the security situation in Brazil. Photo provided by author

As the 2016 Rio Olympics draws closer and more and more national delegations and tourists disembark in this city of over seven million people, security has become tighter and more strict in and around the Olympic Village and the various sporting venues.

More than 10,000 athletes from 206 national Olympic committees will be in town to compete in 306 events across 28 different sports from August 6-21 while some half a million tourists. including some heads of state, are expected to plane in to watch the various sports including the opening ceremony. It’s a perfect storm for crime and terrorism -- something that isn’t lost on event officials.

Brazil’s Special Forces regularly patrol the Athletes Village and its surroundings while police visibility in and around around the city is strong.

Colonel Jeff Tamayo, Philippine Olympic Committee second vice president and security officer for the Philippine delegation, issued his own “assessment” just eight days before the Summer Games unfold. 

“Aside from the threat of the Zika virus, the one that has raised the biggest concern is the threat on security,” said the former Philippine Air Force officer. “The arrest of 10 Islamic State affiliates a week ago underscores the seriousness of the situation. Having said that, the Athletes Village here is like a castle; it is well protected.”

The former military man, however, pointed out to the recent attack in Nice, France and Attaturk Airport in Istanbul that was supposedly secure. 

“Terrorism is always a threat especially for this kind of event and what it stands for. Security is always a concern during events of this magnitude," he said.

Tamayo nevertheless pronounced himself satisfied with Brazil’s security preparations: “They are doing everything they can.”

Philippine chef-de-mission Jose Romasanta, likewise, instructed all members of the Philippine delegation to inform Tamayo and himself of their whereabouts at all times. 

“It isn’t being strict. It’s being practical and safe,” said the POC official.