Ten people were arrested by Brazilian police for planning to commit acts of terrorism only two weeks before the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics.
The group was not connected to ISIS, the BBC reported, but they had tried to make contact.
Security at major sporting events has become a primary concern for organizers in recent years. The threat became all the more real last November during an international soccer friendly between Germany and France at the Stade de France when a bomb went off outside the stadium after the attacker was denied entry.
Luckily, the Euro Cup in France this summer went off without a hitch, as did the Copa America in the United States. But now the world must prepare for a third international sporting event this summer, as the Olympics gear up in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. The arrested group, made up entirely of Brazilians who called themselves ‘Defenders of Shariah’, were described as “absolute amateurs” by Brazilian Justice Minister Alexandre Moraes, who added that they were not properly prepared to perform an attack.
“More than 80,000 police and soldiers will patrol Rio streets for the games which end on 21 August,” the BBC reported. “The federal government said last week that it was releasing an extra $24m to beef up security ahead of the Olympics.”
An attack is just one of the multiple issues Brazilian authorities have to worry about as they enter the last days of the pre-Olympic build up. Brazil was the scene of massive protests earlier this year and while those protests have subsided, the country’s police brutality has surged — an awkward prospect considering the world’s media will have its eyes on Rio come August. There’s also the issue of the Zika virus — a prospect so scary that a number of top athletes are sitting the Rio Olympics out.
Moraes said that policing terrorism will take a backseat to other concerns that are more pressing and pose a higher danger to visitors and residents in Rio: crime.
“Moraes said that violent crime remained the priority ahead of the Olympics. Despite gun control measures, Rio is still awash in weapons, with drug gangs wielding control over swaths of the city. The authorities have begun deploying tens of thousands of troops to bolster security in Rio,” the New York Times reported.
“The biggest concern is still crime,” Moraes said.