As Canada’s Olympic Network, we’re excited and proud to be sharing the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with Canadians. Faced with multiple security risks associated with travelling to Rio de Janeiro – everything from pickpockets to the Zika virus to large-scale security threats – we are heading over with specific plans and strategies to keep our employees safe while they do their jobs on the ground.
So who better to explain how to allow for “business as usual” when you’re surrounded by potential risks than Benoit Suire and Harris Silver, two high-risk deployment managers for our media lines (French and English, respectively). As far as risk management goes, they have been there and done that. Both come to their roles at the public broadcaster with extensive military experience: Benoit in the French Ministry of Defence, where he also spent time in West Africa, Afghanistan and other deployments; and Harris in the Canadian Armed Forces, as well as with the UN.
What goes into security planning in preparation for Olympic Games?
Harris Silver : We’ve been working on the security aspect of the Games for well over a year. It all starts with a risk assessment of the location and tasks to be done (for example news gathering, sports coverage, programming, etc). We then try to determine the hazards and the probability of them occurring; and, of course, the impact if they do occur. We then put in mitigation measures to bring the total risk to a level that is tolerable for the Corporation and the individuals who are deploying.
Benoit Suire : First and foremost, it’s a team effort that involves developing a synergy and expertise within a larger context – that of the Olympic Games. We want to create a consistency between the opposing realities of Canada and Brazil. We want to ensure that our news crews can serve the Canadian public from Rio as well as they would from anywhere in Canada.
It’s also important to develop a relationship with our hosts. My past experience has proved that direct contact, and even immersion when possible, with locals is a long and important tradition that shouldn’t be overlooked. More often than not, it benefits everyone when it comes to risk assessment and adapting our behaviour accordingly to make sure we act appropriately and respectfully. After all, we are their guests.
What are the main security risks and recommendations?
Benoit Suire : The risks in Rio are numerous: petty crime, theft, assault, prostitution, and fraud are the more significant, not to mention health risks associated to the possible exposure to the Zika virus.
Unfortunately, the economic realities of Brazil right now have boosted crime and the Olympic Games provide criminals with an opportunity to diversify their income.
As simple security precautions, we are asking people to: travel in groups, inform colleagues of their whereabouts, use the Olympic shuttles for transportation, and that sort of thing. We obviously have a robust set of recommendations and procedures that we share with anyone who is going to be over there on the ground.
How do you prepare the teams that are being deployed to Rio?
Benoit Suire : All of our employees are briefed and trained before departure to ensure that we are all on the same page. We realize that sometimes the security restrictions that we impose can seem cumbersome, but we do not make them needlessly.
Harris Silver : What we try to do, in terms of both training and approach, is to educate our teams on the risks they are taking and how to reduce the levels of risk to a level they are comfortable accepting. This allows them to go out and effectively get the great stories that they do and still come back to do it again.
Thank you to Harris and Benoit for taking the time to share with us. As the games quickly approach, we’d like to take a moment to thank all of our employees who continue to work tirelessly. Your dedication is inspiring and we remind you to stay safe! remind you that we are here for any of your security concerns. For those of you travelling to the games, we will have regular updates and any breaking information on our internal site as well as a crisis line, should it be needed. If you are following the games from home, follow us on any of our social media accounts for up-to-the-minute coverage of all things Rio 2016.
-Jennifer Bradbury, Senior Specialist, Internal Communications
-Christena Morrell, Senior Specialist, Internal Communications