The foremost priority in Brazil, which will host the FIFA World Cup starting this Thursday, is security. Hundreds of thousands of football tourists are expected.
The security scenarios range from fist fights among fans to an organised attack by terrorists. But what’s worrying the authorities the most is the potential for demonstrations stoked by social anger.
The state of Rio de Janeiro was proud to create an integrated command centre last year, filling it with high-tech. It’s got cameras, GPS locators, audio surveillance — all for coordinating and keeping order during the one-month sportfest, which runs till 13 July.
Security chief Edval Novaes said: “We have an emergency office in our control centre. If something abnormal happens, or anything looks like it’s getting out of control, we’ll gather our men and respond to the crisis swiftly.”
A 17-metre-long wall of monitoring screens is a main feature in here, hooked up to 3,000 cameras throughout the country — 12 venues in twelve cities.
Not just police but soldiers will be on rotating duty, as many as 170,000 in total. Keeping them company will be more than 100 specialists from 40 other countries’ security forces, helping the Brazilians with intelligence.
The risk of a terrorist attack in Brazil is said to be low but the government has planned both preventively and defensively. The army has chemical and radioactive response teams ready.
Add special body armour, helicopters and drones, include the horses, teargas stocks and the budget comes to 590 million euros.
Human rights groups have warned Brasilia to avoid any violations against peaceful protesters.
Special exercises aside, the authorities fear striking transport staff. Closed stations in Sao Paolo last week made for terrible traffic jams.
Emergency teams have been drilling staff at Maracana Stadium in Rio — and elsewhere — for evacuation in case something goes wrong.