Terrorist threats overshadow Olympic Games


Bianca Chiappelloni ’14

Bianca Chiappelloni '14
Bianca Chiappelloni ’14

Instead of focusing on the Olympians and the feats they will accomplish, the world’s attention is on the endless newscasts and broadcasting warnings about serious terrorist threats to the Games. The XXII Winter Olympic Games to be held in Sochi, Russia from February 6 to February 23 may be in danger of disruption.

In June 2013, Chechen terrorist Doku Umarov called all supporters of his Caucasus Emirate group to “use maximum force” to interfere with the games, according to cnn.com. Since this video announcement, there have been a series of attacks on the areas surrounding Sochi, including suicide bombings in Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagesta, and Volograd.
Abcnews.com reports that one of the greatest threats to the Olympic Games is the group of female suicide bombers known as the “Black Widows,” who dye their hair, dress in western clothing, and speak non-Arab languages in order to shield themselves from ethnic profiling. Three of these Widows are known to be in Sochi currently, but they have yet to be apprehended. Some fear that more will infiltrate the Olympic Park and cause violent disturbances.
“These games bring the world together. It’s not right for such fear to be instilled in everyone,” Convent of the Sacred Heart freshman Stephanie Comer said.
The Sochi Olympic Games, originally estimated to cost 12 billion dollars, has become the most expensive Olympics in history, totaling 51 billion dollars according to abcnews.com. This rise in cost is due to government-organized safety precautions. Russian President Vladimir Putin insists that security forces will prevent anyone from entering Sochi without being thoroughly searched. However, just as easily as the government has compensated security personnel and builders, some worry that a terrorist could pay off a guard in order to enter Sochi completely unscreened.
Terrorists are suspected to target large open areas such as the Olympic Park and transportation hubs, specifically the high-speed rail link connecting the Olympic Coastal Cluster to the Olympic Mountain Cluster. Due to the large security staff in Sochi, surrounding areas are also vulnerable to attack.
In an effort to protect the citizens, Olympians, and fans at the Games, the Russian government has stationed 100,000 security personnel, 40,000 police officers, and 30,000 members of the Russian armed forces in the Olympic grounds, according to forbes.com. In addition, a security program called Storm will monitor all computer activity, and all vehicles wishing to enter Sochi will need permits. 
Despite all of the security, people around the world are still uneasy about the safety of all those in Sochi.
“I’m pretty concerned for all those attending the Games. Families of athletes aren’t even going. Clearly there is a huge safety concern, that hopefully won’t result in anything tragic,” junior Emma Sapio said.
-Bianca Chiappelloni, Video Content Editor