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SBD/February 4, 2014/Olympics
Sochi Threats Downplayed, While Several U.S. Athletes Encouraged By Security Presence
Published February 4, 2014
ATHLETES ENCOURAGED: USA TODAY's Kelly Whiteside notes security experts are "holding their breath after news reports of Russian forces searching for three 'black widow' suicide bombers." But locals "don't seem scared by such threats; the enormous police presence eases their fears." There are "more than 40,000 troops and police in Sochi, a city of 350,000." Before U.S. skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace "brought her two young children to Sochi, she was nervous." But now that "she is here, her worries are gone." Pikus-Pace said, "We've felt very secure, very safe. It's just felt normal. We've been able to drive our cars where we need to go. The security is high, and that makes me feel a lot safer, too. We just haven't had any issues since we've been here" (USA TODAY, 2/4). The AP's Tom Withers reported U.S. bobsledders Dallas Robinson and Johnny Quinn "ventured outside the athlete’s village on bicycles and rode to the media center to get a better grasp of the immense security detail." Robinson said, "I don’t anticipate us being in any more harm’s way than going down the mountain in a bobsled at 85 miles per hour" (AP, 2/3).
ON LOCKDOWN: In Minneapolis, Chip Scoggins writes the Olympics "have long been near the top of my career bucket list, and yet almost every conversation in recent weeks has begun with the same question: Are you nervous?" Scoggins: "The honest answer: Yes, a little." Any excitement is "tempered by an uneasiness that comes from daily warnings about potential terrorist attacks." Putin "doesn’t want anything or anyone to disrupt his moment, and the guess here is that he’ll devote as many resources and spend as much money as needed to make sure his Olympics aren’t tainted by violence and bloodshed" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 2/4).