Russia has launched one of the biggest security operations in Olympic history, a month before the start of the Winter Olympic Games in the Black Sea resort of Sochi (February 7-23). The authorities are deploying more than 30,000 police and interior ministry troops and limiting access to the area, according to BBC.
The Russian authorities are in a difficult position. They know that the Winter Olympics are a prime target for terror attacks – Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov has already threatened “maximum force” in an effort to disrupt the Games. Moscow has no choice but to ensure the maximum possible security in Sochi.
But last month’s suicide bombs in Volgograd show that Russia’s security problem extends beyond the Black Sea. Terror groups could strike anywhere. It is hard enough securing an Olympic city. It is almost impossible to secure the whole country.
President Vladimir Putin was in Sochi on Monday night to celebrate the Orthodox Christmas, appearing at a church service. “Starting 7 January, all divisions responsible for ensuring the guests’ security at the Games are being put on combat alert,” Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov said. “Every facility will be put under protection and a space-based monitoring system will be launched.”
Russian officials are establishing two security zones to protect the games. A “controlled zone” near Olympic venues will limit access to people with tickets and proof of identity while another “forbidden zone” will be in place in large areas around Sochi.
Vehicles not registered locally and which do not have special accreditation will be banned from the city. The sale of firearms, explosives and ammunition will also be prohibited. Security fears have been heightened after two suicide bomb attacks killed 34 people in the southern city of Volgograd on 29 and 30 December. Investigators believe the perpetrators were two men who arrived in the city from the North Caucasus region. The bombings prompted Mr Putin to order further security measures and personally inspect Olympic sites.
Lindsey Vonn withdraws from 2014 Winter Olympics
The Sochi Olympics will be without arguably its biggest star as Lindsey Vonn announced Tuesday morning that she will not compete at the upcoming Games, usatoday.com informs. On Dec. 21 in Val d’ Isere, France, Vonn reinjured her right knee. According to a statement released by her publicist, “an MRI showed an MCL sprain, which coupled with the torn ACL, has made it impossible to stabilize her knee and be ready to safely ski again next month.” Val d’ Isere was Vonn’s second World Cup stop since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in her knee last February and then partially tearing the same ACL in November. “Vonn will have surgery shortly and is expected to make a full recovery in time for the 2014/15 World Cup season and the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships in Vail-Beaver Creek,” the statement said.