Brazil official: World Cup, Olympics will be safe

By Tales Azzoni

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, April 16 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

FIFA President Joseph Sepp Blatter, center, walks through a refugee camp set up for people displaced by the 2010 earthquake near the national stadium in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Tuesday April 16, 2013. During a press conference in Haiti, a top FIFA official said the international football organization will be stepping up security for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil as a result of the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

Dieu Nalio Chery, Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian officials said Tuesday they were closely following the investigation into the explosions at the Boston Marathon as they consider whether to change security measures for next year's World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

But a top official with FIFA, soccer's world governing body, said his organization was already planning tougher security for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil in light of the Boston attack.

FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke said during a visit to Haiti on Tuesday that the measures would include secret service agents, police officers, military and Interpol.

Valcke also said a perimeter adding a second layer of security protection would be set up around Brazil's stadiums, with inspections of everyone passing through. As during the last World Cup in South Africa, a satellite will provide surveillance over Brazil, he said.

"As you can imagine with what happened in Boston, (security) will be even ...  stronger," Valcke said at a news conference in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. "We will push the limit to make sure that we have the security, from the beach, to the airport, to the stadium."

Valke, who was in the Caribbean country as part of a delegation led by FIFA President Sepp Blatter, said the soccer organization will work with police departments from all 32 countries participating in the 2014 World Cup and will draw on security measures adopted during the 2010 event in South Africa.

While Brazil has never been a target of international terrorism, Monday's attack in Boston underscored how vulnerable big sporting events can be, and Brazil's foreign minister stressed that "all necessary measures" would be taken to make sure the upcoming mega-events are safe. Brazil is also two months away from hosting the Confederations Cup, the World Cup warm-up tournament.

"We are confident there will be measures which will guarantee the security of the events," Antonio Patriota told reporters in the capital, Brasilia, adding that authorities here were awaiting the conclusions of the investigation into the two Boston blasts.

Alexandre Castilho, a spokesman for the government department that oversees safety during major events, stressed that no changes to security plans had been made, but didn't rule out future changes.

"It would be too soon to change our strategy, especially because not even the American government has definite conclusions about what happened in Boston," Castilho said. "After hearing the first conclusions of the investigation in Boston we will start understanding if there is something that Brazil can learn from the case and incorporate it into our strategy ahead of the upcoming events. It could be something very useful for us, but it could be an isolated event, too, specific to the American scenario."

Castilho stressed that even before the Boston explosions, Brazilian officials had been preparing for a possible terrorist attack as part of its overall security strategy for upcoming events, including World Youth Day, a Roman Catholic pilgrimage to Rio de Janeiro that's expected to be attended by Pope Francis and as many as 2.5 million visitors in late July.

The 2016 Rio Olympic committee said security was a "top priority," while FIFA underscored its confidence in Brazilian authorities' ability to handle security for both the Confederations Cup and the World Cup.

"Safety and security is one of the most important matters in the preparation of any major event," the Lausanne, Switzerland-based FIFA said in a statement before Valke's news conference in Haiti. "FIFA has full confidence in the Brazilian authorities and their developed security concept for both the FIFA Confederations Cup and FIFA World Cup which encapsulate any potential risks."

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