Sochi Olympics 2014: Bombings Question Safety

Sochi Olympics 2014 VIDEO: Event Update First Look

 

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Apparent suicide bombings in Russia on back-to-back days have raised red flags for the international community headed to the country for the Winter Olympics less than six weeks away.

Not only did a blast kill 17 people and wound 35 at a main train Station in Volgograd Sunday, but another followed Monday in the city, the second bomb killing 14. Needless to say, the security issue in Russia is a topic that has grown exponentially more important in recent hours.

[CNN]

No one claimed responsibility for the Volgograd blasts, but they occurred several months after the leader of a Chechen separatist group pledged violence to disrupt the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics that begin on February 7….

…"The entire international movement joins me in utterly condemning this cowardly act," Bach said in a statement, adding that he wrote Russian President Vladimir Putin to express condolences as well as "our confidence in the Russian authorities to deliver safe and secure Games in Sochi."

The United States on Monday condemned the Volgograd attacks and offered its "full support to the Russian government in security preparations for the Sochi Olympic Games," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.

"We would welcome the opportunity for closer cooperation for the safety of the athletes, spectators, and other participants," Hayden said.

While it might be possible to secure the actual campus of the Olympic games and their host village, the actual travel routes the athletes and personnel need to take in order to reach Sochi may be another story.

Volgograd is a major rail hub in southern Russia and a main transit point for people traveling by train to Sochi on the Black Sea, just over 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) to the southwest. Each day, thousands of passengers use the station in the city once called Stalingrad….

…Putin has maintained that the Sochi games will be safe and security will be tight. Visitors to Sochi and the surrounding area are subjected to rigorous security checks, and vehicle license plates are monitored….

…The fact that the bombers are targeting transportation is "not lost on Olympic Committee organizers and security officials," she added.

Athletes are "most vulnerable" when moving between the Olympic Village and the sites of their events, she said.

Townsend, who coordinated with Greek officials before the Olympics in Athens in 2004, said security officials all over the world will be asking Russia for detailed information about these attacks, including whether there were any indications or warnings. They'll also ask about what information Russian intelligence has on the capabilities of terrorist groups to pull off further attacks.

We can only hope and pray the games go smoothly as planned, but if terrorism increases as we get closer to the games it won't be surprising to see some athletes pull their names. Either way, the violence added into the anti-gay laws doesn't bode well for great P.R. out of Russia.

Josh Helmuth is the editor of CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him @JHelmuth or "like" CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.