Vancouver Olympics – Alert 4

The Vancouver Sun is reporting that Olympics spectators should expect airport-style security at just about every event — Olympic or not.

Vancouver police trying to put top-level security in place as visitors begin arriving for the Games which start February 12, 2010. They are directing traffic around new Olympic road closures already.

The prime advice from security officials for these Games – ‘Arrive early and arrive light.’

It sounds incredible, but the suggested timing is —-Olympic spectators should arrive two hours before city events, three hours before mountain events, and four hours before the open and closing ceremonies!

You should expect the sort of security screening procedures like those at international airports rather than at typical sporting matches.

The stakes are high, and unlike being in a closed-off society as China was for the last Olympic Games, this one is in a diverse, active Democracy, which is a target itself for having contributed troops to policing in the Middle East.

Olympic officials told a news conference Monday on the PNE grounds that anyone with a bag smaller than 15 cm x 15 cm x 30 cm or no bag at all will be directed to an express lane, whereas anyone with a larger bag will be diverted to a standard lane in which the bag must be put through an x-ray machine. That means that families could be split-up in this process. I don’t know how they will deal with children.

In either line, spectators must walk though a magnetometer screening device. Accredited individuals and people in wheelchairs will have their own lane.

The RCMP Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit estimates a goal for the screening time of 30 -60 seconds per person.

Their strategy has been to plan towards a medium level of security so it can be ramped up at a moment’s notice.

When asked about the potential for spectators with any number of forms of explosives on their bodies to pass through the screening area undetected, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer said, “That’s not the only detection system that we have — and I’m going to leave it at that.”.

There are also security cameras which are leased equipment and will be returned after the Olympics.

Peaceful and law-abiding protesters have nothing to fear from security cameras. “Peaceful protest is not against the law.” “If we do have an issue, it’s when the line is crossed, when the laws of this country … are broken. … we’re not concerned about protests if they’re kept legal.”

Food and drinks: You cannot bring your own into city venues, so if you bring a picnic meal, eat it while you stand in the security line for hours. Free water will be available at the sporting events in town.

Sealed water bottles (not glass) are permitted in the mountain sporting venues because of the lack of free water there.

Contemporary Security Canada (CSC) will be providing security screening services. Todd Severson, CSC project director, said anyone who refuses to submit to a security screening won’t be allowed inside an Olympic venue.

Sikhs will be allowed to carry their traditional kirpan knives into venues!

Visit More Olympic security information.

The list of banned items at Olympic venues includes:
___ banned weapons and explosives

___ flammable liquids, fireworks, water balloon launchers

___ Other restrictions specifically mentioned on the Vanoc website:

• Leaflets, pamphlets, non-approved publications, promotional material and wearables

• Animals (except service animals)

• Balls, frisbees, racquets, hockey sticks, pucks, other sport items

• Bicycles, scooters, skateboards, skates, skis, snowboards, sleds

• Broadcast and lighting equipment from entities other than rights-holding accredited broadcasters and the host broadcaster — so bloggers and internet radio / TV enthusiasts need to be aware of this

• Broadcasting and recording through the use of mobile phones or other transmitting devices (such as two-way radios, recording devices, PDAs or video cameras) for commercial purposes — wow! how are they going to enforce that!

• Displays of signage and banners containing: religious, political, provocative or obscene content or visible branding and trademarks of sponsor and non-sponsor companies; flags of non-participating countries; flags and banners larger than 2 m x 1 m; poles larger than 0.9 m (please note that flags cannot be attached to any surface in the venue).

• Devices capable of causing a disturbance such as air horns, trumpets, lasers, thundersticks and noisemaking that might disrupt the session or be disturbing to other spectators — fine and dandy, but are they letting people have any “fun”? Why not tell them what IS acceptable, or make something “low” volume?

• Drugs, needles, prescription-strength medicines not validly prescribed for the ticket bearer by a physician. Does this mean that you need to have a copy of your prescription with you at all times? How Orwellian.

• Flash photography and other lighting devices (such as laser pens) anywhere around the field of play (exceptions may apply). Are they going to define that area better?

• Folding chairs or benches (stadium cushions are allowed in mountain venues). This could be difficult. They are not describing whether seats will be comfortable or whether children will be able to see without pillows. These items should be available for rental inside or given out, if they are banned.

• Glass containers or bottles. Understandable. Make sure your baby bottles are plastic, too.

• Golf umbrellas, open umbrellas in seating areas disrupting spectators’ views. How well-covered are these areas? On a mountain, I understand that you have to dress accordingly, and leave if you are uncomfortable, but in an outdoor stadium, you are much more confined in choices. Under all circumstances, dress well, in layers, in all-weather clothing.

• Only large bags (but bags small enough to fit under a seat and not obstruct aisles) are allowed. No containers, coolers, ice chests. Amazing. And are they going to limit the exorbitant prices of stadium food if they won’t let you bring anything in? I doubt it. Make sure your waiting line picnics are completely disposable.

• Strollers in a seating bowl or viewing area … so do they have a check station? And, how reasonable is that? Why not have set aside a section where they could be used? These are huge venues to carry young children through.

• Unauthorized collection of money or commercial activity (such as hawking, ticket resale), sale of counterfeit goods.

Ah well. Have a great time!

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