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09 March 2011

Securing sporting events a global challenge, INTERPOL chief tells Qatar Security Conference

DOHA, Qatar – No sporting event is immune from being targeted by terrorists and requires international co-operation to combat security threats, INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble told the First International Sports Security Conference.

The INTERPOL chief told the gathering of key decision makers in sports integrity and security from around the world that while large sporting events attract billions of international viewers, they are also attractive potential targets for terrorists looking to make a global statement.

To help member countries effectively address these issues, Mr Noble said that INTERPOL’s tools and resources – such as its Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database and the deployment of INTERPOL Major Events Support Teams (IMESTs) – provide concrete, real-time support in the preparation, co-ordination and implementation of security arrangements for high-profile conferences or major sporting events.

“Security is a core element in the organization of all important sporting events and with hundreds of thousands of visitors, sometimes even millions, securing these events presents an immense challenge to law enforcement,” said Secretary General Noble.

“Securing major sporting events is not an area for trial and error, it requires timely global police co-ordination and access to global criminal databases and this is precisely what INTERPOL brings to its member countries.

“It is also crucial that all stakeholders, including law enforcement, national and international sports associations, governments and the private sector, work hand-in-hand to address this complex challenge,” concluded the head of INTERPOL.

The first IMEST was deployed to Portugal to assist Portuguese authorities with security during the 2004 UEFA European Football Championships. Since then, INTERPOL teams have been deployed to a total of 60 major events, and in particular to sports competitions on all continents, including the 2007 Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the 2011 Cricket World Cup currently taking place in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.