The Organization of American States (OAS) is joining the big leagues in securing major sporting events through an innovative partnership with the International Centre for Sports Security (ICSS). On June 25 and 26, we jointly hosted the first “Regional Conference for the Americas: Major Sporting Events, the Crossroads of Security and Socio-Economic Development.” The conference was inaugurated by Secretary General Almagro and the President of the ICSS Mohammed Hanzab with a focus on the opportunities and challenges the region faces as a result of large sporting events as well as the importance of multi-sectoral partnerships to ensure their sustainability, safety, and governance.
The OAS and the ICSS signed a Letter of Understanding to enhance and develop cooperation aimed to:
- Contribute to the development of crime prevention and security strategies to protect major events, and sports security and integrity;
- Consolidate and further develop synergies among OAS Member States and promote integrated mechanisms to prevent crime in connection with major events in the region;
- Promote legacy factors of major events security in the field of crime prevention and sports security and integrity to ensure long-lasting benefits in the hosting countries and the whole region;
- Coordinate their efforts in the development of projects and programs devoted to assisting Member States in implementing projects to enhance sports security and integrity in the Americas.
As a new stage of this joint international effort and in partnership with the ICSS, the OAS announced during the conference its plans for the establishment of a Center of Excellence in the Americas, which will serve as a meeting point for high-level authorities, legislators as well as private, public and academic sector representatives. This Center will allow them to share their experiences and best practices in the planning of large sporting events and their security, including the preservation of the events’ integrity and the fight against all types of corruption – particularly the manipulation of results.
In sports, the fight against corruption is an essential element intrinsic to its security and therefore it must not be overlooked. At the OAS, we can’t ignore it and are committed to supporting and participating in any efforts focused on preserving the integrity of sporting events as well as developing the values that it represents. Particularly ethical, cultural and social values that sports symbolize convey and represent.
The Americas is a sporting region and is currently in the spotlight with multiple countries hosting a variety of international sporting events. Ranging from regional events like the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto and the 2015 Copa America in Chile, to worldwide competitions like the 2015 Women’s World Cup hosted by Canada, and the 2016 Rio Olympics, there is no doubt these events are unique opportunities for socio-economic development in the region. Unfortunately, with the benefits come risks. The ICSS and OAS conference started a broad dialogue to discuss the creation of resilient practices, norms, and standards to ensure that sporting events remain a positive force in our societies and communities. This sharing of information, best practices and lessons learned is essential in making these events viable to all – not just those with a big check book. We hope that countries adhere to national, regional and international guidelines to maximize the social and economic impact while committing to best practices in security, human rights and governance.
Photo credit: Michael K. Wilkinson