Safety a big concern for the Sochi Olympics

Putin promises that athletes and spectators will be safe, but the US is still taking extra precautions (AP Photo).
Putin promises that athletes and spectators will be safe, but the US is still taking extra precautions. (AP Photo)

The Olympics is a time where countries showcase their best athletes, and this year, Team USA is looking stronger than ever. But unfortunately, the spirit of the Games is being turned into a discussion of how safe the Sochi Winter Olympics will actually be.

Last month, a suicide bomb killed 34 people in Volgograd, a city 420 miles away from Sochi, and it is believed that the same group that organized the bombing has threatened to attack the Olympics.
The Games have had attacks in the past, and the U.S. has offered Russia help in security measures to ensure that Sochi is not the sight of another one.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin says the security measures are already extremely strong, and that 40,000 members of Russia’s police and security forces will be guarding the events.
“We will try to make certain that the security measures are not intrusive or too conspicuous, so they are not too noticeable for the athletes, the Olympics’ guests or journalists. But at the same time, we will do our utmost to ensure that they are effective,” Putin said in a press conference.
Still, the U.S. government wants the Russian government to be more cooperative on sharing intelligence information. On CNN’s “State of the Union,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said, “(The Russian’s) level of concern is great, but we don’t seem to be getting all of the information we need to protect our athletes in the games. I think this needs to change, and it should change soon.”
The U.S. team is not taking any chances, and according to USA Today, “the U.S. ski and snowboard team has hired a private crisis response firm in the event a medical or security emergency requires an evacuation from Sochi.” The FBI also said they will be sending agents to Russia to keep athletes and spectators safe.
As the first day of competition approaches, all we can hope for is that Russia’s security is as tight as they say it is and that everyone stays safe. And showing the true athletes that they are, many of the U.S. Olympians are saying that they cannot worry about the concerns surrounding the events — they have to concentrate on winning gold. And hopefully that’s exactly what they’ll do.

This is the first part of “Faster, Higher, Stronger,” a weekly column on the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

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