Skip to content

iStock Photo

Expecting the Unexpected: Scenario Planning for Major Events

While most responsibility for ensuring the safety of guests, athletes, performers, tourists, and other stakeholders lies with the host nation or government for an international event, private companies involved in an event still have significant work to do to ensure not only the safety of employees and others, but also the protection of their brand.

Security issues can impact the brand value of organization and in some instances lead to a loss—even for businesses that may think they are not a direct target.

In the GSX+ Game Changer session “Expect the Unexpected: A Playbook for International Major Events,” Edgar Moreno and Philip Walker will share how to plan for, manage, and mitigate challenges that may arise during an international event by drawing on their own experiences.

Moreno, vice president for global security at NBC Universal, Telemundo Enterprises and Latin America, has worked on nine Olympic Games and three FIFA World Cups, and he has served as a federal coordinator for national security special events. Walker currently manages the major events program for the U.S. Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). He has also worked on two FIFA World Cups, one FIFA Women’s World Cup, and two Olympic Games.

“Any company that’s involved, whether it’s a sponsor, whether it’s sponsoring an athlete or a team or a particular apparel, or you’re providing some value in kind...there’s an investment there,” Moreno says.

According to Walker, major events security largely involves concerns around terrorism, civil unrest, crime, natural disasters, and a mass casualty event.

Civil unrest “ends up being an issue that the private sector has to pay a lot of attention to because it can impact the logistics and operations of an event, if not the event itself,” Walker says. Both Walker and Moreno note that regardless of whether or not a protest is tied to a specific event that a company is involved in, it can still have far-reaching repercussions.

To protect an organization’s brand, Moreno advises long range planning, logistics, and medical support. To complement a robust crisis management program, a risk assessment or analysis should be used to establish benchmarks and tripwires—with plans in place for how to react if an event triggers a tripwire.

Moreno recalls that for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, there were concerns about a potential escalation between the host country and North Korea. To address this risk, tripwires were created that would monitor a variety of actions and outlets, including language coming out of North Korea and information from the U.S. Embassy.

“I think it’s important to have those tripwires down and thought out ahead of time—I think that’s very key,” Moreno says.

Walker and Moreno expand on how steps taken before and during an event can help mitigate issues. Although the focus of this session is on Tier 1 international events, occasions of any size can scale these recommendations up or down as needed.

For more from Walker and Moreno, join their Game Changer session on Monday, 21 September, from 10:15 a.m. to 11:05 a.m. EDT.