High Level Of Security In Sochi For Winter Olympics Shows Terror Threat
Fans of downhill skiing "would be forgiven for thinking they had arrived at a military base" when showing up in Sochi for the Winter Olympics, according to Stepan Kravchenko of BLOOMBERG. Ticketholders "must walk under an array of cameras hooked up to face-recognition software before traversing the checkpoints and the mesh fences to make their way beyond the armed guards." If picked out, they then "have to step into a full-body scanner." All spectators "must pass through metal detectors twice and present their documents three times." Konstantin, an employee of a logistics company that helped organize the Opening Ceremony who is prohibited from using his last name or his employer, said, "The guests are the lucky ones. The staff isn’t. I spend hours getting through security checks every day." While heightened scrutiny "is the norm at such events, the edges are sharper" in Sochi following a spate of terrorist bombings that killed more than 30 people. Russia Curling Federation Head Dmitry Svishev said, "Of course these measures are a bit annoying. But then you think about what efforts are taken to guarantee the safety of all the spectators and you think about your personal safety -- and you calm down." Spectators "need to register ahead of time to gain access." Full-body scanners "stand ready" at the entrance to the Olympic Park complex, which encompasses six arenas and the medals plaza. Once inside, "identity checks are required again for access to individual buildings" (BLOOMBERG, 1/23). REUTERS' Steve Gutterman reported Russia "urged other countries on Thursday to ignore letters threatening an attack" on the Winter Olympics, dismissing the warnings "as a hoax." The host nation "echoed international Olympic officials" who said that the messages received by national Olympic committees in the U.S. and at least five European countries, making a "terrorist threat," posed no danger (REUTERS, 1/23).