Imagine being responsible for the security of tens of thousands of people for 17 days. That is the task for an Israeli company that was just selected to manage and coordinate all security aspects for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“The challenge is so big,” said Leo Gleser, president and founder of ISDS (International Security and Defence Systems). His company, which began in 1982 and is located near Tel Aviv, has been involved with security at various Olympic and FIFA soccer games since 1986, but this is the first time his company is taking the lead.
“We will have 40 games playing on the same day in one city,” Gleser said, adding that the sporting events will be held in 33 venues spread throughout Rio and four other locations in Brazil.
ISDS is responsible for the safety of some 10,500 athletes from 205 delegations, 45,000 volunteers, 8,000 employees, all the spectators and roughly 8,200 VIPS, ranging from heads of state to celebrities to CEOs of major corporations.
Technically, ISDS is not in charge of security. Rather it is a supplier of services to the Brazilian Olympic committee, Gleser said. Its employees won’t be the ones patrolling the grounds, but his company will train local and Olympic workers and create the plans that will be carried out throughout the games.
ISDS will supply the systems needed to keep the Olympics safe, including a scanner that will examine luggage for guns, explosives and radioactive chemicals, using five different sensors.
When asked what he expected to be the biggest challenge, Gleser began spewing a litany of concerns, each more daunting than the last. There are the 20 floating hotels that need to be secure, he said. Then there are the roads leading to and from the airport which ISDS not only needs to make sure are secure but the company also must work out in advance who is arriving by regular airlines and who by private planes.
Those private planes are expected to carry the likes of President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The presence of heads of state presents a security risk, and while many will bring their own secret service, ISDS is still involved in their protection, Gleser said.
Add to those concerns the ever-present possibility of a terrorist attack. Terrorism is always a concern, said the 65-year-old man who moved from Argentina to Israel when he was 17 years old.
While Ebola, or some other disease, is not technically a security risk, Gleser said that if there is an epidemic anywhere in the world during the time of the Olympics, his company must have a plan in place on how best to handle the athletes from the afflicted countries.
Crime is another issue, and large events tend to attract criminals, Gleser said.
Gleser says he and his company will be ready for opening ceremonies on Aug. 5, 2016. “I love my job. I love the work,” he said.