Sports Law • Risk Management

Terrorism and Sport

Terrorism and extremist actions have become more prevalent in recent history, with individuals and groups resorting to radically violent means to convey their messages. Recent cases, such as the Boston marathon bombing, the Madrid bombing, the attack in Istanbul, and the series of explosions set off in Paris are all examples of how these terrorists have attempted to capitalize on the congregation of people watching or participating in a match.

These attacks rarely focus on the sport itself, but merely use the event as a tool for spreading a message. The gain of a terrorist is most likely a religious, political, or ideological ambition, not a sports-related one. Thus, the attacks on sporting events remain unclear and confusing as to why the attack targeted the event, as those that attend these events are largely diverse in the three aforementioned aspects.

Regardless of frequency, sporting facility managers are expected to provide a level of care, measures and procedures for those at the venue as an emergency response to an attack. Now that terrorist attacks are a known, foreseeable possibility in sport, protecting those within the facility is paramount to reduce negligence liability. Police training, planned exit strategies, and computer simulations depicting an attack are all methods that may reduce a highly dangerous outcome.

For the athlete or team, preparing for travel in a potentially hostile region is essential. Those traveling abroad should register with the local embassy or consulate to receive updated safety information and to provide a way in which the embassy might contact travelers in the event of an emergency. Ultimately, athletes should be aware of any political strife within the area of travel, including any restrictions or bans on entry for certain nationalities or religions. Furthermore, have an escape plan that includes awareness of transportation options to quickly leave a dangerous region.

Terrorism has become a major topic in regards to event preparation. But by planning for these extreme scenarios, facilitators and athletes both can ensure a safe event with the knowledge of how to react should an attack occur.