WASHINGTON/GENEVA – Americans planning to attend the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, should be vigilant about their security due to potential terrorist threats, crime and uncertain medical care, the State Department advised Friday.
In a travel alert, the department said it was not aware of specific threats to U.S. interests related to the games that begin next month. But it said large events like the Olympics are “an attractive target for terrorists” and Americans should be aware of their surroundings and take common-sense precautions to stay safe, notably on public transport.
Public transport in the general vicinity of Sochi has been targeted by terrorists as recently as late December, although the department stressed that those attacks took place in the city of Volgograd, almost 1,000 km from the games venue.
The Caucasus Emirate, a group designated by the State Department as a foreign terrorist organization, has called for attacks on the Olympics, it said. Although the group’s ability to strike the games is not clear, the alert noted that the group has in the past been responsible for large-scale attacks on targets including a ski resort, a metro system, a high-speed rail, an airport and a theater.
The alert pointed out that Russia has vowed to take appropriate security measures to protect athletes, spectators and infrastructure. On Thursday in Washington, FBI Director James Comey said the Russians are devoting substantial resources and effort to securing the Olympics.