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What You Need to Know About Security at Sporting Events

With Los Angeles getting ready to host the much-anticipated Summer Olympics in 2028, the preparations for the FIFA World Cup 2026 that will be hosted by the US, Mexico, and Canada are underway.  With thousands of small and medium indoor and outdoor sports events periodically organized all across the country throughout the year, sports event security is a hot topic.

Here is a brief rundown of the best security measures for both domestic and international sporting events, along with the unique challenges and safety concerns they incur.

Security Measures During International Sports Eventssports events security

Massive international sporting events with hundreds of thousands of participants require complex security protocols, given the unique challenges they are accompanied by. These challenges range from threats of terrorism to potential acts of violence committed during event-related protests, public health risks, natural disasters, the protection of VIPs and dignitaries, cybersecurity, and the need to secure all indoor and outdoor facilities that will serve the purpose of the event.

Global sporting events organizers are forced to create the most effective preventive measures, emergency response plans, and detailed assessments that will protect the events' indoor and outdoor facilities and all the people in them. Prevention during international sports events usually consists of:

  • detailed security sweeps completed prior to the start of the event in search of potential explosives
  • the use of standard metal detectors
  • bag searches and pat-downs for spectators about to enter the premises
  • advanced video surveillance solutions and uninterrupted monitoring activities during the event
  • employing cybersecurity experts to carefully supervise and immediately assess any suspicious activities online to prevent hacker attacks like the one that occurred at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in 2018
  • deploying police forces to keep athletes, visitors and organizers safe
  • the use of technology advances for implementing better security protocols, including hand-held metal detectors, radio frequency identification solutions for quickly scanning app or ticket tags for fast identification of attendees, aerial drone surveillance, biometric Identification solutions, mobile ticketing, and the use of artificial intelligence together with surveillance cameras to identify potentially risky behavior or participants

sporting event safetySecurity at Domestic Sports Events

Youth soccer, basketball, or baseball tournaments or events organized locally also require similar security measures that are at the forefront of global sporting events. Safety and security plans for small or medium sports events organized by local communities are a critical part of the master risk management plans for the respective events. Here are some of the most important elements of these plans and why it is critical for each of them to be successfully implemented:

Natural Disaster and Bad Weather Emergency Management

The managers responsible for planning a sports even venue should plan ahead for bad weather or natural disasters, depending on the location of the event and the time of the year. A sturdy emergency management plan is a necessity for keeping all attendees safe and it should cover all fire exits, emergency evacuation routes, the exact location of medical gear and command centers, and active shooter planning details.

Physical Security Measures

The majority of venues used by youth sports teams feature public parking spaces and public facilities with limited or non-existing physical barriers to limit access to the respective venue. This means event organizers usually need to add extra security staff or take additional measures to compensate for the inability to control the public's access to the event.

Keeping the Grounds Locked Prior to & After the Game

Indoor venues should have door alarm systems and commercial grade-1 locks installed on select doors that should not be opened during the event unless an emergency occurs. Organizers should consider the following when working at the sporting event's security plan:

  • access to and exposure of large athletic fields, stadiums, gyms, locker rooms, parking lots
  • access to the entire surface of the school provided there are no clearly marked and secured inside gates or exit doors to lock down the areas that will not be used during the event

Small, athletic events held at local high schools also require plenty of preventive, inspection, and response measures meant to protect both the venues and the people in them. Most of these measures will require extra funding and costs attached, including the need to buy and install surveillance cameras, electronic locks, emergency doors, police officers working off-duty, overtime payments for school security personnel, and others.

Hiring Security Companies to Secure Physical Premises at Sports Event

At times, assessing a venue that will host a small or mid-sized sporting event may result in the need to hire a professional security company or bring in extra emergency locksmith or security staff, or police forces on-site in order to deter and expedite potentially dangerous situations. Before deciding whether an expert security or locksmithing company should be hired, the operator of the event will need to consider the number of people that will be attending, the venue's layout, the level of competition, and the history and location of the indoor or outdoor facilities.

There are also a series of important policies, strategies, and procedures that will require less money and more time to be planned and implemented. School administrators and the designated safety staff from all schools involved in an upcoming sporting event will need to synchronize their information well in advance and assess all safety, security, and emergency guidelines.

Small and Large Sporting Event Organizers Have Similar Duties

Hosting a large, global sports event or a smaller game day event in the community will incur very similar security concerns and safety challenges. No matter the size, sports event organizers are bound to comply with the same legal requirements of providing athletes with secure facilities and spectators with safe environments where they can watch the respective events. Global events organizers should cooperate with international, national, and local security forces and professional security companies for the effective identification and minimization of all potential risks associated with hosting the events.

While there is no perfect plan that can effectively foresee all potential occurrences during an upcoming sports event, taking the right precautionary measures can and will make a difference.