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U.S. officials update travel warning, cite security steps for Sochi Games

Saturday, January 25, 2014
APOlympic rings for the 2014 Winter Olympics installed in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia.

AP
Olympic rings for the 2014 Winter Olympics installed in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia.

WASHINGTON — Citing rising threats of violence at the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, U.S. officials said Friday they are prepared to work with Russian security officials to help protect American athletes and the 10,000 American spectators expected to attend.

In an updated travel advisory late Friday, the State Department said the U.S. continues to monitor potential terrorist threats in Sochi, noting a series of recent bombings and other incidents that have occurred in Russia. The State Department urged Americans traveling to the Olympics to register in advance and to remain vigilant while in the country.

“There is no indication of a specific threat to U.S. institutions or citizens, but U.S. citizens should be aware of their personal surroundings and follow good security practices,” the travel warning said.

The travel warning also warned that foreigners could face jail, fines or deportation for violating Russia’s new laws banning gay “propaganda” to minors.

As host country, Russia has prime responsibility for protecting athletes and spectators. The opening ceremony is scheduled for Feb. 7, and U.S. officials are already in Sochi.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that he and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have talked to their Russian counterparts about security for the Olympics, including the need to ensure protections for U.S. citizens.

“If we need to extract our citizens, we will have appropriate arrangements with the Russians to do this,” Hagel said, noting the U.S. will have two warships in the Black Sea during the Games.

“As of right now, the Russians have not requested any specific assistance or technology. We want them to know that if they need our help, we want to help,” Hagel told Pentagon reporters.

Senior American officials said U.S. officials see the threats as troubling but not unusual for a high-profile event such as the Olympics.

The senior officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak by name, said U.S. officials are taking seriously all threats, with the safety and security of all Americans in Sochi seen as taking the “highest priority.”

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who was alongside Hagel for a Pentagon briefing, said France also has received no request for assistance from the Russians and added: “If the question is do we have the intention to ensure the protection of your citizens that might have problems in Sochi, the answer is yes.”

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17 more reader comments:

  1. if the US is so worried send one troop of marines for every US citizen that goes to Sochi.

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 4:48pm
  2. Mommie, Daddy,
    Can we go to Russia, where they are pissed with Americans,
    to see the Olympics!? It will be fun pretending we are English
    or Australian. Just think: All the little things we say and do that
    scream, “You Are AMERICAN,” that we will need to surpress. FUN!

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 4:49pm
  3. They forgot one: Never, EVER look directly at shirtless Putin! Can cause uncontrollable vomiting and spontaneous attempts to gouge out ones own eyes in a vain effort to unsee the aforementioned abomination.

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 4:50pm
  4. simple, don’t go… problem solved…

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 4:50pm
  5. Russia is such a backward inbred country, why would anyone go!

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 4:50pm
  6. I’m concerned about all of the participants in this Olympics game.

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 4:53pm
  7. I fear for all the athletes going there, matters not the sexual orientation. Some male was arrested for just holding up a pride flag, tackled by police. I heard about gays being beaten up, killed. Karma needs to hit this place with a “Tsunami” big enough to wipe out the cruelty going on over there. Russia, you cant get rid of all they people there who are gay, there’s too many, you cant find them all.

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 4:58pm
  8. F- the SOCHI olympics! IM NOT SUPPORTING THE GAMES…

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 5:26pm
  9. The Putin Olympics are going to bomb.

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 5:30pm
  10. BOYCOTT THE SOCHI OLYMPICS and there USA sponsors

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 5:31pm
  11. Boycott Russia and the Olympics!

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 6:11pm
  12. Shared!

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 6:11pm
  13. I still don’t understand why they didn’t move the Olympics when they had the chance! A country as immature as Russia has no business hosting the rest of the real world! Russia has forever shamed the spirit and soul of the Olympics! The only good thing about all of this is now American is not the biggest embarrassment on the planet!

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 6:13pm
  14. There will be an incident and only after an American is killed will the US Olympic committee even begin to consider the wisdom inherent in having boycotted them!

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 6:42pm
  15. Boycott, Boycott, BOYCOTT! Or risk losing your life

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 7:18pm
  16. I fear for all of our athletes I do not think we should be taking part in these games, I am afraid for all not just lgbt athletes but all of them

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 7:24pm
  17. DON’T GO!

    Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 7:45pm