The Olympics make for a lousy terrorist target. This may seem counter intuitive, at first read. Naturally, the Olympics are high visibility, the center of the world’s focus for a couple months. And ouch, the UK is now budgeted to spend a whopping £553 (US$864) million on security for this summer’s events in London.
But operationally speaking, the Olympics present a problematic target for a terrorist. A successful attack can take between one to five years to plan and execute. It is a very challenging mission. Terrorists (and for that matter certain criminals) bank on routine.
Yet the Olympics are held in a different location every four years, with a different set of people managing affairs. The language of the land changes. A million important details of the operational terrain change. The inability to fully understand the operational routine of the event and all the contingencies affects the ability of a terrorist to execute a truly effective attack. Excluding Munich in 1972, past terrorist attacks have been few and far between, and in the case of Atlanta – ineffective.
The head of MI5 agrees. Jonathan Evans stating that “..the Games are not an easy target, and the fact that we have disrupted multiple terrorist plots here and abroad in recent years demonstrates that the UK as a whole is not an easy target.”