Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 9:46AM
The countdown to the 2010 FIFA World Cup—the most-watched sporting event on Earth—is reaching a fever pitch, with little over 24 hours before the first match begins.
But for the 300,000 spectators traveling to South Africa to watch the contests, safety and security should be just as important as soccer. The nation has one of the highest crime rates in the world, averaging 50 murders a day. Already, visitors and journalists have faced robbery and violence, and the potential for terrorism is self-evident.
The nine South African cities hosting World Cup events have stepped up their security measures significantly and mobilized more than 40,000 extra police officers to patrol the soccer stadiums and tourist areas. The City of Cape Town now boasts a 280-camera CCTV network that covers Cape Town Stadium, the city center and pedestrian routes. These cameras are manned by several hundred law enforcement and disaster management officials.
Cape Town officials claim the city also has a sophisticated disaster management system, with excellent coordination between the municipal, provincial and national law enforcement and rescue services. Meanwhile, on Sunday, 15 fans and a police officer were injured during a stampede at a soccer match near Johannesburg. Here’s hoping South Africa’s extra police, security technology and disaster planning will prevent more extreme incidents once the games are underway.