Its ambitions, however, means all eyes will be firmly fixed on the safe and secure delivery of this year’s FIFA World Cup, when the FIFA Tournament Time Demand Model (TTDM) forecasts indicate that upwards of 1.7 million people could visit Qatar during the tournament with approximately 500,000 visitors in the country on the busiest days, as well as the government’s handling of legacy issues and infrastructure.
Safety of major events then is uppermost in Qatar’s mind and has seen the country demonstrate just how serious it takes the issue by joining China and Korea in funding the creation of the UN’s ‘Guide on the Security of Major Sporting Events: Promoting Sustainable Security & Legacies. This weighty 181 page document outlines all the aspects for save and sustainable delivery of major sporting events and covers all eventualities from realizing initial ambitions, setting realistic expectations in terms of the human security resources, both public and private, that will be needed and supported by advanced technology, such as drones, facial and identity recognition, cybersecurity, video surveillance, communications, management of secure visitor flows from arrival points to stadiums and throughout the host destinations and the management of the many tons of equipment needed to mount events which will put the hosts on the world stage.
Leadership and vision, says the guide, are fundamental to safe and sustainable major event delivery with security needing to be placed in the hands of experts with proven track records of ethical and moral behavior and today that also means demonstrating the human resource function is fully committed to the values of diversity, inclusiveness, and racial equality. The co-ordination plan has to be inclusive too, taking in a host of government departments from sport to justice and defense, security to treasury, transportation, health, foreign affairs and more. Experts need to be drafted in to deliver specialized training.
The guide identifies a number of threats that organizers and security planners of major sporting events need to assess and prepare for including, terrorist attacks on critical infrastructure, offences against public order, organized crime, corruption and increasingly, cyberattacks. Today no major sporting event can be organized without a high degree of reliance on computer and networking technology. Unfortunately, despite the interconnectivity the technology delivers, it also comes with a high degree of risk not least of which is the reputational damage a successful cyberattack can unleash on the host destination’s global image. Vulnerabilities can be exploited by malicious actors so key to the success of an event is the ability to mitigate any impact of cyberattacks.
Qatar’s investment in safe and secure major events delivery is playing a key role in driving Middle East homeland security market growth by 14.5% currently – three times the world average, according to Market Watch - and the Middle East & Africa cybersecurity market to a forecasted Modor Intelligence value of $2893.40 million by 2026 representing a compound annual growth rate 7.92%.
The UN report advises policymakers of host countries to implement various international instruments and tools aimed at preventing and combating criminal conduct. Moreover, bringing safety plans bang up to date also means taking into consideration the impact of Covid-19 on the security of major sporting events. This requires a rethink of crisis and disaster contingency planning and seeking the guidance of international health and sports government bodies.
Legacy considerations are key to major event hosts – they can make, or break, bids for future events, impact local and international perceptions on the value of hosting. So, strategies, infrastructure, policies, and institutional arrangements must be in place for a major event to have significant — and produce positive — systemic social and economic impacts beyond the event itself. Security infrastructure and measures also have legacy impact on civil defense and homeland security well beyond the sporting arena. Major sporting events, for instance, can spur the development of security technologies, including traffic surveillance systems in major urban centers. The UN guide recommends we view major sporting events as ‘laboratories’ for the launch of new security systems and also speed up the adoption of international standards on community policing matters and security.
Major sporting events may come and go, but their impact can be long lasting. Qatar’s global sporting ambitions are now known worldwide and have led to a surge in security systems, consultants, infrastructure developers, technology providers and others involved the delivery of successful international events boarding plans for Doha to display their wares and expertise at Milipol Qatar – the region’s only dedicated event for the civil defense and homeland security industries. They and Qatar know there is much at stake. When the final whistle blows on the FIFA World Cup 2022 fans throughout all corners of the globe will be vocal in their verdict of whether Qatar delivered to expectations – and that will no doubt feed into the event pitches of the future.