Winter Olympics: Australian athletes won’t be allowed outside Sochi
The president of Australia’s Olympic Committee says travel by that country’s athletes’ will be restricted during the Winter Games in Sochi due to safety concerns after the deadly suicide bombings earlier this week in Russia.
“None of our athletes will be traveling to or from Sochi by car, bus or train (all will be traveling by air); none will be training or competing outside of Sochi in Russia; and none will be holidaying elsewhere in Russia after the Games,” John Coates, the committee president, said in a statement .
The Olympic Games are set for Feb. 7-23, followed by the Paralympic Games from March 7-16.
Bombs exploded at Volgograd’s main train station Sunday, and a trolley bus blew up Monday. Both blasts killed more than 30 people and injured more than 30 others. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited some of the survivors of the attacks.
The Australian government Monday updated travel advice on its website for visitors and spectators, telling them to “exercise a high degree of caution” while visiting Russia because of the threat of terrorist and criminal activity. It also advises Australians not to travel to the North Caucasus.
Julia Bishop, Australia’s foreign affairs minister, had hinted Monday that athletes might be banned from traveling to Sochi because of the fear of more terrorist attacks.
The International Olympic Committee condemned the blasts. “I have personally written to the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, to express our condolences to the Russian people and our confidence in the Russian authorities to deliver safe and secure Games in Sochi,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement Monday.
The bombings in Volgograd, about 400 miles from Sochi, raised concerns because the rail station is a major transit point for tourists traveling to Sochi. CNN reported that the blasts occurred several months after a Chechen separatist group said it would disrupt the Olympic Games.
The U.S. State Department hasn’t issued warnings or alerts about the bombings but did update its Visitor Information for Olympic and Paralympic Games Web page to tell Americans to be vigilant about their personal safety if they travel to the events.
It says, in part: “The Russian government is devoting considerable resources to ensure the Sochi Olympics are safe and incident-free. Large-scale public events such as the Olympics present an attractive target for terrorists, as did the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996. Travelers should expect increased police presence and enhanced security measures in and around the Olympic venues.”
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