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Nuclear Security in Major Public Events: World Youth Day 2019

5 March 2019
Panama City, 23 January 2019. Crowds cheered as Pope Francis arrived at the Tocumen International Airport for World Youth Day 2019. Panama, the first Central American country to host the World Youth Day, cooperated with the IAEA to ensure nuclear security at the event. Advance planning is required to maintain nuclear security at major public events. In partnership with the IAEA, the Panamanian authorities incorporated nuclear security systems into the overall security plan for the event. Here, the Joint Task Force established by the authorities to manage security at the event conducts a pre-event analysis of threats and the possible consequences of the deliberate misuse of nuclear or radiological material.World Youth Day 2019 involved 20 venues, all of which needed to be protected. The IAEA provided training and loaned radiation detection instruments to detect and identify nuclear or other radioactive material at these venues.Security measures had to take into consideration the proximity of the Panama Canal, which is a major contributor to Panama’s economy and is of global strategic importance. In line with <a href="/resources/nuclear-security-series">IAEA guidance</a>, Panama mapped background radiation levels at venues and other strategic locations before the event.Nuclear security measures were implemented throughout the event.Detection instruments were selected considering the locations and the pre-event analysis. Here a hand-held Personal Radiation Detector is used for pre-event radiation detection screening.Access control measures included the use of radiation detection instruments at venue entry points.Roving security patrols equipped with specialized detection instruments monitored strategic locations, including areas outside of the secured venues. Here, the Panamanian authorities patrol the coast near the Cinta Costera boardwalk, where Catholic youths gathered to hear Pope Francis' opening message. More than 300,000 participants gathered along the 3 km Cinta Costera boardwalk for the welcome ceremony and opening of World Youth Day 2019. During the events, security teams carrying hand-held portable radiation detection devices blended with the crowd.A special team conducted a security sweep of Church of San Francisco de Asis ahead of Pope Francis' arrival, checking for explosives and radioactive material. A Joint Task Force Officer used an IAEA hand-held detection equipment to search for  nuclear or other radioactive material.All areas of the building, including basements, ventilation systems, and even crypts were checked with the radiation detection instruments.Thanks to Panama's preparations, conducted with support by the IAEA, nuclear security was ensured at the event.<p>
Special Thanks to:
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Lieutenant Colonel Jorge Gobea, Lieutenant Colonel Didier De Garcia, Lieutenant Colonel Alexis De Leon, 2nd Lieutenant Omar Valdes, 2nd Lieutenant Randolf Bonini, Major Demetrio Martinez, Captain Marcos Espinoza, 2nd Sargent Gabriel Espinoza, 1st Sargent Adrian Montenegro
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Ms. Nadja Benson and Ms. Natasha Dormoi Eluf, Ministry of Health, Republic of Panama
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Mr. Erik Sichra, Permanent Mission of Republic of Panama to the IAEA
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Captions: Inna Pletukhina, IAEA Division of Nuclear Security, Outreach Officer
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Photos: Dean Calma, Office of Public Information and Communication
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