Luis Bitencourt

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Brazilians greeted the long-awaited decision of making Rio de Janeiro the host of the 2016 Olympic Games with tremendous exhilaration. Although Rio’s fantastic natural beauty certainly added to its attraction in hosting the games, its alarming rates of urban crime and violence largely associated with drug trafficking immediately triggered worldwide criticism, and put at issue its ability to guarantee the security for the games. Brazilians have been vying for a position as an emerging global economy and understand the importance of the Games for international prestige. This makes the stakes very high when hosting the Olympic Games in the wake of the 2014 Soccer World Cup, which will also be held in Brazil. This paper explores these criticisms and assesses Rio’s ability to prepare for this important event. The paper further explores the consensus that Brazilians will be more equipped to address actions taken by organized crime capable of affecting the Olympic Games than to face a terrorist attack. Brazil – and Rio – does not figure in the “terrorism map” as a region particularly linked to terrorism. Aside from uncorroborated suspicions of activities by terrorist organizations on the Tri-Border region (Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay), Brazil does not elicit many concerns regarding terrorism.1 Yet, there is no way to guarantee that terrorist organizations will not try to make use of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games to advance their agenda. This being in mind, Rio and Brazil in general face a long road ahead to prepare, prevent, protect and respond to a possible terrorist attack during the 2016 Olympics. It is clear that prevention and preparation towards potential threats to the Games must necessarily include cooperation and exchange of best practices with other countries.

1 U.S. Department of State has confirmed that this area may have been used to transport weapons and conduct financial affairs in the past. This type of activity has been made more difficult with the fortification of border controls in more recent times.


The views, opinions, and/or findings contained in this report (paper) are those of the author(s) and should not be construed as an official Department of the Army position, policy or decision unless so designated by the official documentation.

Funded by the National Defense Center for Energy and Environment (NDCEE), ID W91WAW-09-D-0022, delivery order number 0616.


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