The first in our series of articles highlighting various aspects of Olympic Games to celebrate the countdown to 2012 this article considers how the development over the last 40 years of anti-terrorism measures has resulted in Olympic Games that have been held without terrorist attacks aimed at political change. Since the disaster of the 1972 Munich Olympic Games where 11 Israeli athletes were killed by Palestinian gunmen, the world has been alerted to the importance of Olympic security; since then, the Olympic Games have become the standard-bearer for national organization and international cooperation on anti-terrorism within society generally.
However it is argued here that the investment in security and policing can prove counterproductive as a defensive antiterrorist strategy, for several reasons. First, rather than creating the feeling of a safe environment, it can lead to a climate of fear among the people to be protected. Second, it can lead to an exaggerated focus on one specific arrangement (the Olympic Games), with a parallel under-focus on other possible targets: terrorists can stay away from the Olympics and concentrate on other unprotected or under-focused targets. The author suggests that we are approaching an Olympic Stress Syndrome in the field of Olympic anti-terrorism measures and points out that we can never be too secure, but we can spend too much on security. The future will show if the increasing focus on security does result in a fortification of the Olympics and in a prohibitively expensive Games.