At the Frontline: U.S. Olympic Committee CSO Larry Buendorf

CSO Larry Buendorf discusses keeping America’s athletes safe at the Olympics


How do you go about ensuring the safety of the athletes and staff of the USOC and what types of security technologies have you implemented to do that?

It’s based on your liaison with those people that have the authority to provide the type of coverage necessary. In my position, whether it’s here in Colorado Springs working with the law enforcement agencies that are here or whether it’s in an international scene, China, for instance, working with the Chinese authorities trying to determine what they’re plan is so that I have an idea if its adequate to bring our team into China or if there are areas that need they’re attention. We don’t bring in security to another country. It’s their responsibility to provide security for all the athletes that arrive in China.

Generally, here we have state-of-the-art access systems and camera systems and control systems in place when our athletes are in our country and at our training centers, that provide them with a safe environment.

What types of preparations are currently underway as the Beijing games approach?

I’ve been traveling there for the past four years working with our U.S. embassy and the embassy has Olympic coordinators that are there that are specifically assigned to work with the authorities. I’ve gone there frequently to listen to their plan. I know that they have a lot of manpower in place and they have technology that’s in place, so I’m pretty comfortable with the fact that they’re going to provide a safe environment in Beijing.

What types of security challenges do the games pose for Beijing or any other city that decides to host an Olympics?

The magnitude of the games presents a problem. It’s not a one event competition, there are many events going on at the same time in various places so security isn’t around a stadium or a racetrack, it is around several different venues, 30, 40, 50 different venues going, some of them going on at the same time, not all of them in the same city. You have displaced venues and responsibility goes to various agencies and districts who have responsibility for those venues. There are events across county and states lines, so there’s a coordination of all those law enforcement [agencies] that have to get together and come up with a single plan that works across the board. That’s a heck of a challenge.

How do you coordinate security for such a large number of people with the security forces of other nations?

It’s more about making sure that everyone in our delegation has a clear understanding of the host country that we’re visiting and we have a clear understanding of what they’re procedures are going to be. Because you must comply with their laws, you must comply with their procedures, so it’s a matter of bringing everyone up to date on that particular host country, and it changes. You could go from country to country; what they did in Australia was different from what they did in Athens and what they’re doing in China is different than Athens and Australia. Everyone one of those nations presents a different approach and a different understanding of how they’re going to run the games. Every games is different. That type of information has to flow to our delegation so that they have a clear understanding when they go into the games and go into that particular country to understand the difference of how the security is going to be run.

Does the fact that the U.S. is not a popular nation in some parts of the world affect your job as CSO?