Brazil plans 60,000 security force for Rio Olympics: source

Tue Jun 23, 2015 7:42pm EDT
 
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RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil plans to deploy around 60,000 security forces for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, a source familiar with the preparations said on Tuesday, bolstering security amid fears of a spike in violence in the picturesque city.

The security operation would be larger than the 40,000 deployed for the 2012 Games in London, but smaller than the 75,000-strong in Athens in 2004 when organizers worried about terrorism following the Sept. 11 attacks in New York three years earlier.

The source, who requested anonymity because the information is not yet public, said federal and state governments and the organizing committee are still hammering out details of the operation that will include military troops, police, firemen and private security agents.

Unlike when the city hosted the 2007 Pan-American Games, authorities are not considering sending troops to the favelas, or hillside slums, known for drug violence as "security has improved substantially in Rio," said the source.

However, a rash of stabbings and shootings as well as a climb in robbery across the city has rekindled security concerns after years of progress in clamping down on crime. Rio has invested heavily to bolster its police force, particularly in the favelas where heavily armed drug gangs have ruled for years.

The security operation at the Olympics was expected to cost about 600 million reais ($195.10 million), according previous estimates from the defense ministry.

A spokesperson for the local Olympics organizing committee and the federal government were not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Writing by Alonso Soto; Editing by Richard Chang)

 
Dancers carry Brazilian olympic team mascot, Ginga, during the celebration of Olympic Day at the Maria Lenk aquatic center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 23, 2015.  REUTERS/Sergio Moraes