Host cities tolerate massive shows of security that would otherwise be unimaginable. In London, which already has more CCTV security cameras than any other city in the world, 2,000 new cameras were installed in the Olympic Village, while nearly 2,000 more were installed around the city, according to Big Brother Watch. License plate recognition systems have been installed throughout London. There are even surface-to-air missiles atop apartment buildings and more military troops on the ground than Britain has in Afghanistan. An $877 million effort, it’s been called the largest peacetime deployment of security forces in history, but the question remains: Will there be mission creep? How much of that infrastructure and the public’s newfound tolerance for being watched will remain after the Games are finished?
Earlier this year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation published an analysis of all recent Games and says the results are disheartening. It should come as no surprise that the Beijing Summer Games were used as an excuse to install thousands of cameras that are still in operation, said the report’s author, Rebecca Bowe. But other cities have suffered similar fates, too.
“The Games bring a legacy that lives well beyond the prestige,” Bowe said. “We’ve witnessed time and again, the security infrastructure lives on well beyond the Games.”