The Diplomatic Security Service: How US athletes are kept safe at the Olympics

Japan 2020

TOKYO (NEXSTAR) — Safety and security are always top of mind when the Olympics roll around.

Here’s how the state department helps protect our athletes.

Keeping Team USA safe is an important job and it’s probably one you don’t think about. At the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Nexstar’s Marielena Balouris got an inside look at how the Diplomatic Security Service keeps our athletes safe.

If you’ve never heard of the Diplomatic Security Service before, that’s OK. Their goal is to blend into the background.

“We’re the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of State,” said Scott Schonauer, DSS special agent.

One of their missions is to protect the secretary of state. But they’re here in Tokyo for a special — and important — reason.

“Our biggest concern is always anything security-related, that’s what our purpose here is to make sure that Team USA is in a safe and secure environment,” said Angelica Harrison, DSS special agent.

That mission is coordinated out of the joint operations center inside of the US Embassy. It takes work from multiple agencies in both the U.S. and Japan — and years of planning.

“Our job is to make sure that we build those relationships well in advance so if something were to happen, we know who to call, we know what to do in those situations,” Schonauer said.

Planning security for Tokyo was challenging.

“These Olympic Games are definitely unique in the sense of the global pandemic. So the one thing we could count on every day is that things are changing,” said DSS Deputy Olympic Security Coordinator Joshua Berk.

But the agents did their prep work, and got into place.

“We’ve got some agents that are actually with the teams, traveling with the teams and then we have agents that are at the venues. Their job is to know that venue in and out,” Schonauer said.

Other agents work in the embassy, tracking the movement of teams and any potential threats. Agents say the Games have been quiet, so far… except for their enthusiasm for Team USA.

“We are objective in our security measures but certainly deep down, we’re true Americans and we’re rooting for Team USA,” Schonauer said.

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