From the Zyka Virus to terrorism there are plenty of challenges that plague the games. Here are a few event management lessons that every event planner can take away from this international mega event.

Zyka Virus


The Zyka Virus is not only bad, the more it is studied, the worse it seems. Unfortunately for athletes and attendees of the Olympics, the virus has not only reached Rio de Janiero, it has flourished to points beyond. When faced with an outbreak like the Zyka Virus, make sure your attendees and participants are well informed of precautions to take through visible signage strategically placed, warnings posted on the official website and through social media and pamphlets; all of which should be in multiple languages. The precautions include wearing long sleeves, long pants, hats with brims and bug repellent along with staying away from stagnant water and moist environments.


Planners can reduce risk at the venue too. It is important to make sure that there is no standing water at any of your venues. That may mean putting a team together to do hourly checks and removing any water or puddles that can happen. This will at least keep most mosquitos out of your area. Your medical area should be well marked and well-staffed.




Recent events in Orlando and Paris have this topic at the tip of everyone’s mind. There are many steps that an event planner can take that will at least minimize stress in knowing that your event is secure. Plenty of well-trained security who have had thorough background checks of their own is a must.Those individuals should be trained in the most up-to-date crowd management and counter terrorism measures.


The best response to a terrorist attack is to stop it before it begins. Here are a few big picture security tactics for mega events like the Olympics. These are as follows: There must be a secure perimeter that is not breached. Sniffing dogs and an armed security presence, called a Hercules team, should be considered. Security should have a no bag policy at best or a bag check policy at minimum. Video surveillance should be in place well before the event with well-trained monitoring professionals at the command station.


The security team must have a command post with several mini posts in strategic, high traffic and vulnerable locations and should be trained in an emergency response plan in conjunction with local response teams and local hospitals. Communications amongst all security must be reliable and well tested in advance. Use of snippers and other specialty security forces could also be considered.


A well organized and executed ticketing and credentialing system can also help prevent security breaches. Security planning should begin many months (or years) prior to the event to ensure it is affordable, well thought out and well executed.



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Local Unrest


The citizens of Brazil have been under a tremendous amount of pressure, and it is showing. Political corruption, a compromised economy,an ousted president and other scandals have plundered the country and a scandal fatigued population is revolting with protests and riots. For an event planner if you must go forward with the event, try to ensure that your attendees have a positive experience at all times. You may want to register all of your US attendees with the State Department. In case of an emergency the State Department will know the people who are in the region and provide assistance. You also may want to consider trip insurance and cancellation that includes a Force Majeure clause that could help with cancellation if this becomes a necessity.


If traveling to Brazil, here are additional resources that may be of interest to you. Whether you are planning an event there during the Olympics or simply an attending the Games these guidelines should help you feel safer and be better prepared.


Harvard Public Health Review, CDC, Counter Terror Business


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