International public events such as the football World Cup or the Olympic Games provide great enjoyment for millions of fans and spectators around the world. Yet, the exuberance, the show and the colours that characterise these events often belie sinister risks such as terrorism, which unfortunately come with the high profile these events receive.
Recently, the international community has been confronting a new security threat: the risk of the malicious use of nuclear or other radioactive material, an area in which the IAEA has unique expertise.
For years, the IAEA has been providing specialized technical assistance and expert advice to countries that host major public international events. The latest such support is being provided to South Africa, which is due to host the football World Cup in the summer of 2010.
In particular, the IAEA has been supporting South African authorities with the nuclear dimension of their security plans, helping them integrate radiological planning into existing security arrangements for police, the intelligence community and emergency response squads based in the country.
Advisory missions and training workshops have focused on radiation detection, physical protection, and emergency response from a nuclear security perspective.
In addition to its work on the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the IAEA has supported nuclear security measures for the 2008 and 2004 Olympics in China and Greece, the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, and the 2007 Pan American Games in Brazil.