Brazil not underestimating terror threat at Rio Games after attacks in France, other countries

Rio doping lab regains accreditation to relief or organisers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 July, 2016, 6:24am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 July, 2016, 6:24am

Brazil’s sports minister said on Wednesday the Olympic host country was not underestimating the threat of terrorism and was taking all necessary measures ahead of next month’s games in Rio de Janeiro.

The minister’s comments, less than a week after a truck massacre in France raised fears of an attack at the Games, is the latest reassurance by a Brazilian official that the country is actively working to buttress security plans and review intelligence and possible threats with foreign partners.

“We are not underestimating anything with regard to security,” Leonardo Picciani told journalists in the capital Brasilia. “The government has adopted all the measures recommended by international security protocols...The government is absolutely convinced that the Games will be safe.”

Last week, after the attack in Nice, Brazilian security officials said they would increase security perimeters, ramp up inspections of visitors and use more roadblocks throughout Rio de Janeiro, even if it means longer lines during the Olympics, which start August 5.

Still, some Brazilian officials stress that the threat of terrorism remains small, albeit real, given years of preparation for the event and constant cooperation with partner nations. More than 100 countries have told Brazil they will send representatives to help monitor events in a joint security centre that will operate during the Games.

In an interview published Wednesday, Justice Minister Alexandre de Moraes told the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper he is more concerned about violence and street crime, problems that affect Rio on a daily basis.

“Crime is more of a worry than terrorism and that is why we are reinforcing patrols,” he said.

Brazil plans to deploy about 85,000 soldiers, police and other security personnel during the Olympics - over twice the size of the security force in London for the 2012 Games.

Picciani said foreign officials have given their reassurances that they are satisfied by Brazil’s security plans. About 50 heads of state are expected to attend the Games and none of them have called to cancel, he said.

On Tuesday, Brazil’s government said French authorities told them a report made public last week about an alleged plot against the French delegation at the Games was false.

The plot, mentioned by a French military official in a transcript of a parliamentary hearing, had been looked into by intelligence officials from France and other countries and had been proven unfounded, they said.

Separately, the World Anti-Doping Agency said it has reinstated the laboratory that will carry out drug testing for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, which start in just over two weeks.

The lab was shuttered last month for what Wada called “nonconformity with International Standard for Laboratories.”

In a statement on Wednesday, Wada says the Rio laboratory “has successfully complied with the ISL’s requirements for reinstatement and no further suspension is required.”

The statement will be a relief for local organisers and the International Olympic Committee, which would have been forced to send thousands of samples abroad for testing.

The Rio Olympics have faced myriad problems: the Zika epidemic, soaring crime and security worries, slow ticket sales and severe water pollution in venues for sailing, rowing, canoeing, triathlon and distance swimming.