Athletes preparing to compete in the Sochi Winter Olympics are a bit worried after two bombs killed 31 people in Volgograd, Russia. Security will doubtless continue to build in the wake of two devastating bombings just 600 miles from the site of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. The question is, will it be enough?
Over 2,500 athletes from 90 countries are set to descend on Sochi, Russia, ready to vie for their dream of Olympic gold. However, Russians continue to undergo their preparations for the big event with their security in question.
Swedish hockey star Johan Franzen, currently playing for the Detroit Red Wings, says he’s certain Russia’s security forces are going to be ready for any eventuality. “I’m sure after this, the security will be higher than they intended from the start,” he said.
To be sure, Russia’s officials say they are doing everything they can to mitigate every possible security threat at an event that has been at the forefront of virtually any terrorist insurgency since the Olympic village invasion during the Munich Olympics of 1972. Certainly, they are dropping a lot of money for the event – $51 billion has been spent on the Sochi Olympics and a good part of that money has been dedicated to security. Despite this, many Sochi athletes remain worried after the latest Russian bombings.
Russia’s Olympic chief Alexander Zhukov says Olympics security isn’t going to be ramped up because everything that can be done is currently being done.
U.S. speedskater Jilleanne Rockard isn’t so easily appeased. “I’m scared their security may be involved,” she admits. “They don’t want a national embarrassment either. I’m sure they want to save their image and their pride.”
As the investigation continues into the bombings, other athletes have come forward, noting the increased security at other Olympics events, such as 2008 in Beijing. Then, the Chinese implemented a practice of identity checks during the opening and closing ceremonies. There has also been widespread use of metal detectors at the Olympics since 2002, a practice that may give many athletes some comfort.
The sharpshooters seen roaming the forests near Sochi may offer further comfort. This added Russian security was noticed by ski jumping champion Thomas Morgenstern of Austria at a World Cup event last year, and it would be no surprise if that extra security feature was on hand for the Olympics as well. “When we are at the Olympic Games, that will be one of the safest places for sure,” Morgenstern commented. “I think they are in control.”
USA Speedskater, Jilleanne Rookard, says that she’s scared that Russian security may be involved. She says that she has no trust in their security forces, but she does know they are looking to avoid any national embarrassments. At least she likes to think that in order to take some stress off of the situation. Rookard says that she’s pretty sure they want to save their image and pride.
Russia is determined that Sochi 2014 will be one of the most secure Olympics on record, despite being after the latest Volgograd bombings. However the Athlete’s trust in Russian security forces seems to be wavering and causing them to continue to worry.
By Christina St-Jean