Russia Facing Serious Security Challenges As Countdown To Sochi Games Begins
As Russia begins the 100-day countdown to the Sochi Games, last week's deadly assault on a passenger bus in the town of Volgograd has "diverted attention from other pressing questions of readiness that have dogged final preparations for several recent Olympics," according to Kevin Johnson of USA TODAY. Security is among the "most pressing concerns for organizers, who have faced questions about Russia's law banning gay 'propaganda,' passed in June, and the city's ability to host thousands of visitors in an area where venues, hotels and transportation infrastructure are being built from scratch." No other recent Olympic city has "faced the security challenge that confronts Russia." The U.S. State Department in an advisory to U.S. residents attending the Games "noted the security risks that exist just more than 100 miles from some of the mountain venues." The same advisory also "contained a warning about the potential ramifications related to the anti-gay law passed this year." However, the IOC has said that it is "'fully satisfied' that Russia's anti-gay law won't violate the Olympic charter's anti-discrimination clause." A source said that Russia's security plan for the Olympics has "created a secure bubble around the venues, but if the plan fails, there is limited access in and out of the venues for medical personnel." The source added that so much Russian security "is being deployed to Sochi that other potential targets in Russia could be vulnerable and equally disruptive, like the bus bombing in Volgograd" (USA TODAY, 10/29).