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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science

First Advisor

Alper, Donald K.

Second Advisor

Johnson, Vernon Damani

Third Advisor

Nord, Douglas C. (Douglas Charles), 1952-


On July 2, 2003 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced it had chosen Vancouver/Whistler, British Columbia, Canada as the host city for the 2010 Winter and Paralympic Games. The 2010 Games were Canada's first since the City of Calgary hosted the 1988 Winter Olympic Games and were the first time Vancouver had ever hosted the Olympics. The Games were an opportunity for Vancouver, Whistler, and British Columbia to showcase their cities and their region. With an expected 3 billion people from around the world tuning in to watch the Games, planners and organizers were extremely cognizant of the opportunities and challenges they faced. Of the many challenges faced by planners is the proximity of the Games to the U.S. -- Canada border. Richmond, one of the venues in Vancouver where some of the 86 winter sporting events were held, is only 31 miles from U.S. territory. This obviously presented logistical challenges in terms of transportation, subcontracting, construction, etc. However, it also presented a security challenge as well. With over 250,000 visitors expected, not to mention the previously mentioned 3 billion people watching on T.V., the Olympics are largely considered a possible target for terrorists. In fact, during at least two Olympics, terrorists have attacked. At the 1972 Munich Games, 11 athletes were killed when terrorists took a group of Israeli athletes hostage, and in 1996 at the Atlanta Games, a bomb was detonated by Eric Robert Rudolph in Centennial Olympic Park killing two and injuring 111. In fact, between 1972 and 2004, there have been 168 terrorist attacks related to sporting events (Zekulin, 2009, 1). Additionally, plans needed to be put in place to ensure the public's safety should a national disaster take place. With a number of cities, towns, counties, a U.S. state, a Canadian province, and two sovereign national governments involved, security planning would be difficult. To complicate matters, there has not been much -- if any--precedence for robust cross-border, regionally-focused security planning. While there is academic literature describing cross-border transportation and environmental planning, for example, security cooperation has continued to remain almost exclusively a function of the federal government and thus absent from the literature of cross border regionalism. This is particularly true of the US-Canada security relationship. The coordination in planning for the 2010 Games internationally as well as nationally was an interesting challenge for the Pacific Northwest region -- also known as the Cascadia Region. The region before, during and after the Games faced security threats, job creation opportunities and transportation challenges and planning and preparation in a coordinated fashion between government agencies would be critical. This thesis describes cross border security cooperation during the 2010 Olympics and through an analysis of the literature on cross border regionalism develops an explanation for why, in this particular instance, there was notable cross-border coordination within the Cascadia region leading up to the 2010 Games. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, security cooperation between the U.S. and Canada has been challenging. To have such robust coordination that is led by regional leaders is notable. The following paper provides some background on the 2010 Games, outlines what could be explanations for the cross-border security coordination seen leading up to the Games, and briefly discusses literature on cross-border regionalism that could help answer the question of why, in this particular instance, there has been cross-border cooperation that was led by regional leaders and implemented by federal, state, and local government officials. The particular optics for the following review will be from a U.S. perspective and not a Canadian one. While this paper discusses some of the efforts made by Canadians to plan the Games, the focus of this paper is on the U.S. efforts to support the Canadian 2010 Olympic planners and how U.S. security officials coordinated with their Canadian counterparts -- and with each other. Specifically, this thesis intends to investigate why cross-border coordination occurred in this region at this time for this particular event. So much has been written about challenges faced by both the US and Canada on cross border issues including immigration, security planning post 9/11, drug smuggling, gun issues, and others. However, cross-border collaboration and cooperation on security planning for the Games was notable and could provide new insight to cross-border relationships. A contention underlying this study is that because political authorities at the federal, state, and local levels have different interests regarding cross-border regional planning, there are fundamental challenges to cross-border coordination. However, when interests match, as many did in the preparation for the 2010 Games, there is more of a likelihood of cross-border coordination such as we've seen in the planning of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Specifically, because the Cascadia region has historically seen a lot of cross-border collaboration, that security planners in the region were more willing to collaborate internationally with each other. And, without a strong federal government presence dictating the terms, subnational groups took the lead in ensuring the Games would be safe and secure.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Winter Olympic Games (21st : 2010 : Vancouver, B.C.); Winter Olympics--International cooperation--Case studies; Border security--United States--Case studies; Border security--Canada--Case studies

Geographic Coverage

Vancouver (B.C.); United States; Canada




masters theses




Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this thesis for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.