Mass gatherings are recognised to have the potential to enhance spread of infectious diseases as well as being potential targets for deliberate events. Although both these risks are unlikely, the rise of Zika infection in the run up to the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in Saudi Arabia highlighted how these events can create a perceived, if not actual, global health threat and a political as well as health challenge.
The inspiration of this session derives from the next three Olympiads (Winter 2018, Summer 2020 and Winter 2022) being in the western pacific region (S Korea, Japan and China respectively). This session will be based on previous sporting mass gatherings such as the Rio Olympics, the London Olympics, and the World Cup, religious gatherings such as the Hajj, and large state events such as the King’s funeral in Thailand. The session aims to share learning and best practices from a biosecurity and terrorism perspective and to explore how such mass gathering events can best be planned to minimise any health risks. Many mass gatherings, especially international sporting events, are organised by what are effectively private sector companies and the relationship between the private and public sector partners is vitally important.
Senior Consulting Fellow
Director, WHO Collaborating Centre on Mass Gatherings and Global health Security
Public Health England, London
Technical Lead, Health Security Interface
World Health Organization
National Institute for Communicable Diseases
Global Centre for Mass Gatherings
Bureau of International Health Cooperation, National Center for Global Health and Medicine