Olympic Security: 2002 versus 2034

Jul 9, 2024, 3:30 PM | Updated: 5:48 pm

View of Salt Lake City from KSL, during Olympics. photo by Ravell Call, February 21, 2002. Salt Lak...

View of Salt Lake City from KSL, during the Winter Olympics, February 21, 2002. Salt Lake Olympic Security measures continue to grow. (Ravell Call / Deseret News)

(Ravell Call / Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — As the potential for the Olympics to return to Salt Lake City grows, so do the security preparations. 

The 2002 Winter Olympics occurred just months after the 9-11 terrorist attacks.  At that time the country was also gripped by the threats of anthrax.  Overall, it was an uncertain time for safety, especially when concerning large events.

This meant that the Salt Lake City Olympics couldn’t afford to be anything but hypervigilant with security measures.

“As you came in you were screened several times before you even came into the venue, so I think it was unusual,” said retired Salt Lake County Police Chief of the Unified Police Department, Chris Bertram. 

Bertram said he’s proud of how secure the 2002 games were and that they had no security breaches or incidents. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.

“It was slow, the distances that you parked and walked. Because of the footprint of the venue, you were forced to park away from it so that we could keep it safe,” said Bertram.

Looking forward

Will the 2034 games be handled any differently? Can visitors expect more efficient security protocols?  Bertram said that, at this point, it’s hard to predict what will be going on a decade from now.

“What is the international threat? Is that changing? Are there actionable threats against the games?” said Bertram, noting what security officials will need to consider as the 2034 approaches.

All of those factors will affect how heavy security will be. But current advances make officials optimistic for the future.

“Ten years from now technology is going to be very helpful. We see that at the airport. If you’re vetted, you go through TSA security a lot faster than those that haven’t been previously vetted.” said Bertram.

Overall, experts believe that technology is on our side and that the 2034 games will be just as secure as the 2002 games. And hopefully, with continued advancements, security lines will be a lot smoother.

“I think it would be better.  I hope it’d be better,” said Bertram.



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Olympic Security: 2002 versus 2034