Leery French officials have cast their eyes skyward with Euro 2016 creeping closer every day.
The proliferation of drone technology the past several years means that anyone with a few hundred bucks and an internet connection can get a ready-to-fly drone delivered to their door in just a few days.
While that’s great news for adventurers, hobbyists, and tinkerers, it’s one big headache for those tasked with ensuring Euro 2016 goes off without a hitch.
With tensions high across Europe and beyond, officials are taking no chances. Euro 2016 organizers announced Tuesday that new technology will be deployed to protect against any potential aerial menace.
Euro 2016 security chief Ziad Khoury said that no-fly zones will be set up around all 10 stadiums as well as training grounds for all 24 teams.
“WE’VE NOTED THE GENERAL PROLIFERATION OF DRONE-USAGE IN SOCIETY, SO NO-FLY ZONES WILL BE DEFINED OVER EVERY TRAINING GROUND AND EVERY STADIUM,”
“AND IN MOST STADIUMS AND FOR MOST MATCHES ANTI-DRONE MEASURES – WHICH ARE QUITE INNOVATIVE – WILL BE DEPLOYED, WORKING WITH THE STATE, WHICH WILL INTERFERE WITH DRONES AND TAKE CONTROL OF THEM IF THEY ARE SPOTTED.”
Ziad Khoury, Euro 2016 security chief
The French government is concerned with scores of unauthorized flights over nuclear facilities, military installations, and even the presidential palace that have occurred recently. While most of the flights are probably innocuous, “probably” doesn’t cut it when you’re dealing with national security.
To combat this new threat, the French government is funding research into different technologies that could take control of, cripple, or destroy rogue drones. The government has confirmed that counter measures will be taken during the Euro 2016 but declined to specify which technologies would be deployed.
A training exercise in the Euro 2016 host city of Saint-Etienne, located in Southeastern France, simulated a scenario in which a drone was used to disperse chemical agents into the crowd at Geoffroy Guichard Stadium, which will host three group stage matches as well as a match in the knockout round.
Khoury indicated that the government has received no specific information pertaining to a drone threat but would take precautions nonetheless,
“WHEN YOU PREPARE AN EVENT OF THIS SIZE, YOU MUST IMAGINE ALL SCENARIOS, EVEN THE MOST UNLIKELY.”
Khoury’s words are both comforting and disconcerting. It’s nice to know that authorities are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that one of the world’s most hallowed sporting events goes smoothly, but terrifying to know that we live in a world where evildoers can rain down terror from a remote controlled flying death machine.
And if we’re being real, there are innocent people who wake up every day and wonder if they won’t meet their death by drone. But they don’t live in Europe. And the drones aren’t piloted by rogue factions.