: This is my 49th
special Window on Eurasia about the meaning and impact of the planned Olympiad on the nations in the surrounding region. These WOEs, which will appear each Friday over the coming year, will not aim at being comprehensive but rather will consist of a series bullet points about such developments. I would like to invite anyone with special knowledge or information about this subject to send me references to the materials involved. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Allow me to express my thanks to all those who already have. Paul Goble
London Warns Terrorist Attacks in Russia ‘Very Likely’ Before or During Games.
Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office says that terrorist attacks are "very likely to occur” in the Russian Federation before or during the Sochi Games. According to the BBC, "the FCO advises against all travel to Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan and the districts of Budyonnovsky, Levokumsky, Neftekumsky, Stepnovsky and Kursky in Stavropol Krai. It also advises against all but essential travel to North Ossetia, Karachai-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria” (bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25907140
Russian Sports Minister Acknowledges Sochi Not Ready. A
s the clock ticks down to the time of the opening ceremony on February 7, it is becoming harder and harder for Russian officials to maintain their stance that everything is ready. Some, like Mayor Pakhomov try, but most are backing away and using words like "almost” and "nearly.” But Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has now acknowledged that "to be honest, not everything is” and that in some places, "there is more to do” (newizv.ru/sport/2014-01-29/196199-ministr-sporta-rf-vitalij-mutko.html
). Evidence that there is a lot more to do, especially involving roads, sidewalks, hotels, and support facilities is provided by local reporting and extensive pictorial documentation, including blogsochi.ru/content/olimpiiskie-zadvorki-2
Putin Said Using Olympiad to Solve Domestic and Foreign Policy Tasks.
Islam Tekushev, the editor of the Prague-based "Caucasus Times,” says that it is clear that "the Olympiad in Sochi has become for the Kremlin a suitable pretext for the resolution of certain domestic and foreign policy tasks, above all the issues of societal mobilization and an increase in patriotism … and an expansion of its presence in the Caucasus and on the Black Sea. Putin’s Moscow has broadened its presence in Abkhazia and South Osetia” still further as a result of the games. Other analysts have made same point and suggested Putin may use the Games to attack Ukraine or somewhere else just as he did the Beijing Games in 2008 to attack Georgia (caucasustimes.com/article.asp?id=21243
Sochi Games Likely to Be Declared Successful If There is Snow But No Terrorism.
A commentary in London’s "Spectator” newspaper said that "given the incredibly low expectations” that most people have for Sochi, "the Russian games may even be judged a success as long as the weather stays cold and no terrorist attack takes place.” But even if those conditions are met, the Games have "backfired” against Vladimir Putin because of the anger that many Russians feel about the cost and corruption involved and because of the opposition of many in the West to his "broader campaign against homosexuality.” This general lowering of expectations is reflected in articles which specify that things are fine in Sochi because the torch hasn’t gone out recently (spectator.co.uk/features/9126622/putins-pink-peril/
IOC President Criticizes World Leaders for Not Coming to Sochi …
Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, criticized those world leaders who are refusing to come to the Sochi Games. They are politicizing something that should be about athletic competition. He acknowledged that "there had been many problems in Sochi but one must consider that the IOC has worked on them if they concern the Olympics. I call for a discussion based on facts,” he said (vedomosti.ru/sochi-2014/news/21879711/prezident-mok-raskritikoval-politikov
… While Russia’s Chernyshenko Says 60 are Coming …
Dmitry Chernyshenko, head of the Russian organizing committee, says that despite being some of the busiest people on earth, some 60 chiefs of state, heads of government, and senior national and international organization officials will be coming to Sochi. According to his count, that will be the greatest number ever to attend a Winter Olympiad (izvestia.ru/news/564547
… And Complains Bach Didn’t Go Far Enough in Opposing Protests.
Although the IOC’s Thomas Bach said that athletes should not engage in political demonstrations at the Olympics, Dmitry Chernyshenko, head of Russia’s organizing committee, said the IOC head should have gone further: "He might have mentioned that there is a rule 50 in the Olympic Charter which limits the expression of any propaganda during the Games,” Chernyshenko said. "I don’t think they (athletes) are allowed by the Charter to express those views that are not related to the sport at the press conference room.” He said that any athlete or visitor who felt he or she had to make a statement hould do so at the "Sochi speakers’ corner” some 7.5 miles away from the venues (mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSBREA0S13M20140129?irpc=932
Many ‘Volunteers’ in Sochi are in Fact Security Officers.
Many of the security officials working in Sochi are dressed as volunteers, the better to fit in but a possible explanation of what many see as the impolite and off-putting behavior of the volunteers. Many of the security personnel who have been brought in are living in Spartan conditions and are unhappy with their lot, according to Russian reporters (privetsochi.ru/blog/bred_sochi/41025.html
Picture of Two Toilets in One Sochi Stall Goes Viral, Prompts Sharp Russian Reaction
. A photograph taken by BBC correspondent Steve Rosenberg showing two toilets in a single stall in a Sochi facility went viral. Many Americans wondered what was going on, but many Russians viewed this as symbolic of much that is wrong with the Sochi Games. Russian officials only made it worse by putting out an implausible story about how these toilets were not connected and one of which was about to be moved (http://nypost.com/2014/01/29/russia-olympics-in-the-toilets/
Torch Travails Continue and Intensify in the North Caucasus.
The Olympic torch arrived in the North Caucasus where it not only suffered the same problems it faced in other parts of the Russian Federation including going out when it wasn’t supposed to, isolated protests on a variety of subjects, a heavy-handed security presence and a negative reaction by Russian bloggers to people doing the lezginka, something they had objected to earlier as well, but also some new ones in addition. Concerns about security led officials in several of the republics to reduce the length of the route the torch was carried, the number of bearers, and even the size of crowds. Elsewhere officials gave people the day off and ordered students, faculty and government officials to attend. Meanwhile, officials in Sochi itself were preparing for the torch’s arrival there by handing out detailed instructions to residents about how they are expected to behave when it does ( kavpolit.com/olimpijskomu-ognyu-ne-dadut-razgulyatsya-na-kavkaze/
Harassment of Foreign Journalists in Sochi Increasing, Norwegian Reporter Says.
Øystein Bogen, foreign affairs correspondent for TV2 in Norway, says that the experience of his crew in Sochi earlier this month when they were "stopped,arrested [and] detained more than six times in the course of 48 hours” is becoming increasingly common there. Police there said they suspected he was taking drugs and insisted tht he take a drug test. "I never imagined that any topic would be critical enough to provoke such a reaction,” he said (huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/29/journalist-olympics-sochi-detained-arrested_n_4690457.html
Russian Authorities Increase Pressure on Opposition Activists in Rostov.
Russian officials have fined one activist who held up a sign when the Olympic torch passed an have harassed others in a sign that the authorities hope to intimidate them (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/237224/
Pakhomov Says Everything is Ready for the Olympiad Except for a Little Polishing
. Despite widespread evidence to the contrary, Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov said on Russia Today that everything is ready for the opening of the games except for a little cleaning and polishing (privetsochi.ru/blog/politics_sochi/41165.html
Sochi Seen Leading to ‘Final Break’ between Russian People and Putin.
Pavel Basanets, a Moscow commentator, says that the Olympiad will "begin the final break” between the authorities and the people, a prospect that frightens both because of the unpredictability that will entail (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=52E768A0139E0
Russian Officials Using Fan Passports to Exclude Opposition Figures.
Many have been concerned that Moscow’s requirement that all fans attending the Sochi Games have a "fan passport” would allow Moscow to collect information on a wide swath of people, but now more Russians are worried that the authorities are using these documents to exclude those who oppose the regime or who are in categories that Moscow assumes might be a problem (svpressa.ru/politic/article/81157/
Daghestani Salafis Told Not to Travel Beyond Their Republic While Sochi is in Progress.
Salafi Muslims in Daghestan have been told by officials there not to travel beyond the borders of their home republic while the Olympics are in progress, a violation of the Russian Constitution but a step taken because the Salafis are often identified by Russian officials as jihadists (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/237126/
US Congressman Says Sochi Games Violate Memory of Circassian Victims
. Representative Bill Pascell of New Jersey has issued a statement in support of the Circassians and their national aspirations. He asks colleagues to join him in recognizing those rights and also to find that Russia is continuing to violate them and insult the memory of the hundreds of thousands of Circassians who were killed in Sochi and the surrounding area 150 years ago (nosochi2014.com/campaign/statement-of-support-for-circassians-to-us-congress.php
Sochi Residents Face New Problems.
In addition to the problems they have faced over the past year, including but not limited to official malfeasance and harassment, the lack of reliableelectric, water and sewage services, the leakage of raw sewage into public spaces, the expulsion of more than 2000 from their homes, many of whom have gone uncompensated, and the destruction of already problematic infrastructure, this week Sochi residents faced some new problems: the closure of familiar markets, the rerouting of traffic, an increasing number of fences and barriers, the absence of police when residents called for them, and the risk that their pets might be killed if they somehow got out of the house without their owners being nearby. Not surprisingly, some Sochi residents are now saying that the Sochi Olympics have destroyed their city and that it may be "your” Olympiad it isn’t theirs (privetsochi.ru/blog/Flood/41088.html
Sochi Officials Putting Out Poison to Kill Stray Dogs and Cats
. Sochi officials, although they have not been willing to confirm this, are putting out poison to kill homeless animals or those which are unfortunate enough to get out of their homes without a human partner. Animal rights activists are furious not only because officials have not kept their promises to build a shelter but because of the indiscriminate and cruel means they are using to remove the animals from the streets. One activist has distributed a guide on what to do if a pet is inadvertently poisoned as a result (svoboda.org/content/article/25235016.html
Voice of Russia Says Advertising of Sochi Sets Record for All Olympics. T
he Voice of Russia said that "the total values of contracts with sponsors, suppliers, and licensees” amounts to "almost half a trillion dollars [sic].” (That would be 500 billion dollars or ten times the amount even critics say the games cost and is almost certainly a misprint. The network probably meant rubles in which case the amount would be 16 billion US dollars.) That amount, it said, "is an all-time record not only for Winter but also for Summer Olympic Games.” Andrey Mamontov, a Russian marketing expert, said that "of course, advertising contracts will not cover all expendituresfor the preparation for the Olympics, but they may bring a substantial income”(voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_01_30/Sochi-Olympics-sets-advertising-record-9640/
Serbian Gastarbeiters Returning Home from Sochi Say They were Mistreated
. According to a report by RFE/RL, "apparently the much-touted ‘Slavic brotherhood’ beteen Russians and Serbs doesn’t extend to migrant workers.” Approximately 100 ethnic Serbs from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina have now returned to their homelands and report they were mistreated and harassed by Russian companies and officials in Sochi (rferl.org/content/serb-workers-sochi-olympic/25240405.html
Many Russians View Sochi Games as "Just Another Disaster to Be Survived.”
"Even beyond the societies of social activists and environmentalists,” Bellona reports, "there are plenty of people [in Russia] who have plenty of Olympic-related woes on their mind[s]. But few of them areespecially forthcoming. It’s all just another disaster to be survived, another turn of the Kremlin gears they hope not to get crushed by … As one activist [said], ‘It’s just something called life in Russia’” (bellona.org/news/russian-human-rights-issues/2014-01-olympic-climate-change-hitting-krasnodar-hard
Bad Weather Traps 158 Buses Heading for Sochi.
A major snow storm has blocked 158 buses travelling to Sochi for the Olympiad. The snow has also limited travel on even the largest roads and delayed but not yet stopped trains in the area. More bad weather is predicted for the next week in the mountains north of Sochi (aif.ru/olymp2014/olympnews/1094008
IOC President Reiterates Sexual Minorities Won’t Face Problems in Sochi.
Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, says that his group has "guarantees from the Russian authorities” that the Olympic Charter will be observed and that during the Games there will not be any manifestations of discrimination including on the basis of sexual orientation” (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/237325/
Sochi Games have Made North Caucasian Instability ‘More Visible.’
Michal Romanowski, program coordinator for the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Warsaw, says that the North Caucasus has "for two decades been on a steady, permanent boil.” The Sochi Games have simply made this reality "mmore visible,” and he suggested that "the terrorists of the North Caucasus will do their best to ensur that the world does not forget them” (blog.gmfus.org/2014/01/29/sochis-other-games-putin-against-the-terrorists/
Moscow Furious at Use of Olympic Torch in Dubai.
Russian officials, from the Olympic committee to the foreign ministry, have expressed outrage that several hotels in Dubai are displaying Olympic symbols and even conducting what Moscow has called an "illegitimate” torch relay. Sochi organizers say that only they are allowed to have such a relay at the present (sochi2014.rsport.ru/torchrelay/20140130/718918886.html and
US-Born Buddhist Among Sochi Torch Bearers
. Erdni Ombadykov, a Kalmyk lama from Philadelphia who returned to the Buddhist region of the Russian Federation earlier at the suggestion of the Dalai Lama, was one of the torch bearers in Kalmykia (en.rsport.ru/olympics/20140125/717881919.html
UNGA Issues Call for Olympic Truce.
John Ash, the president of the 68th
session of the UN General Assembly, formally issued the call to countries participating in the Sochi Games for an Olympic truce (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/237435/
German City Refuses to Host ‘Welcome to Sochi’ Exhibit.
The German city of Kassel said that it would not host an exhibit of the satirical works of Vasily Slonov about Sochi, not because of the content of his pictures but because he is not a resident of that city (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/237408/
Refugees in Ingushetia Plan Flashmob for February 7.
Refugees who were forced to flee as a result of the conflict between Chechnya and Ingushetia in the early 1990s say they will stage a flashmob on the day of the opening of the Sochi Olympiad in the hopes that they will be able to attract international attention to their plight (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/237334/
Valov Tells Putin Moscow Apparently Doesn’t Want to Know about Sochi Problems.
Aleksandr Valov, the editor of Blogsochi.ru, has posted an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin saying that the response of the Russian security forcess to reports about problems in Sochi suggests that Moscow doesn’t want to know the truth so that it can fix things but only to ensure that nothing critical appears. That is not only preventing the problems from being corrected but is undermining public confidence in the central government. If that continues, "then it will be necessary to create a GULAG on the bass of the FSB or organize mass shootings on the eve of the Olympiad” (blogsochi.ru/content/pismo-vladimiru-putinu-po-povodu-olimpiiskikh-repressii-v-sochi
Supporters and Critics Agree Sochi a ‘Litmus Test’ of Russia’s Future
. Supporters of the Sochi Games say the Olympiad marks the revival of Russia, while critics say the event is "an illustration of the ineffectiveness and corrupt nature of the Russian state.” But the two agree that Sochi is "a litmus test” of the direction Russia is heading, although they continue to disagree about that as well, a Moscow commentator says (blogsochi.ru/content/pokazaniya-svidetelei-ili-forbes-ob-olimpiiskom-sochi
Cemetery Near Olympic Park Heavily Damaged by Games Construction
. Russian reporters have played up the fact that the Sochi venues were carefully built around an Old Believer cemetery, but they have generally ignored the fact that the same construction has left another cemetery at the periphery of the Olympic park full of puddles and waste (blogsochi.ru/content/kladbishche-vozle-olimpiiskogo-parka
Sochi Cultural-Historical Center Still Only a Skeleton
. The Sochi Cultural-Historical Center where Russian officials had promised that local cultures would be represented is far from completion. Indeed, pictures show that only some of the framework has been done and that most of the building remains covered, a la a Potemkin village, with canvas (blogsochi.ru/content/kulturno-istoricheskii-tsentr-v-sele-nekrasovka
European Federation of Journalists Warns of Problems Those Covering Sochi Face.
The EFJ says that those who travel to Sochi to cover the Games will face violence against journalists, the blocking of critical online comment, homophobic laws and action, restrictions on their work and open harassment, among other problems (us6.campaign-archive2.com/?u=312d2086b1b5654e5e6957dd9&id=bc7fccf3a6&e=2bcf09b2ef
Foreign Governments Give Advice to Those Planning to Go to Sochi.
In an article entitled "Don’t Drink With People You Don’t Know and Don’t Express Your Opinion,” Moscow’s "Kommersant” newspaper says that the governments of countries taking part in the Sochi Olympiad are giving those planning to go a variety of advice. The Spanish foreign ministry say that its citizens should learn at least a little Russian, its German counterpart says German visitors mustn’t photograph military facilities, and its French counterpart says French citizens must avoid taking photographs of any Russian security officers or police (kommersant.ru/doc/2393190
Sochi Shaken by Small Earthquake.
A small earthquake, 3.5 on the Richter scale, centered off the coast of Sochi was not felt by most people but serves as a reminder that the entire region is tectonically active (privetsochi.ru/blog/news_sochi/41148.html
Sochi Hotels Will Have to Be Converted into Condos After Games.
In order to recoup some of their investments, those who have built hotels for the games are likely going to have to covert them into condominiums after the games, Russian real estate experts say. The implication of this is that most of them do not believe that Sochi will attract the continuing flow of visitors that Moscow officials have projected (privetsochi.ru/blog/realty_sochi/41092.html
Sochi Residents Warned Against Manipulation by Media
. Privetsochi.ru published a list of ten ways in which the media seek to manipulate people, including distracting attention, creating problems in order to offer a solution, using emotions rather than reason, and knowing more about people than the people know about themselves (privetsochi.ru/blog/Flood/41085.html
Russians Joke about How Future History Books Will Treat Sochi Games.
According to some Russians, "20 years from now, history textbooks will have a chapter entitled ‘The Period of the Restoration of the Economy After the Sochi Olympiad, 2014-2014.’” That joke appears to be an implicit commentary on a new book that officials have released entitled "The Olympic Heritage of Sochi” which talks about the future only in the most glowing terms (privetsochi.ru/blog/OlympicRu/41065.html
Drink Up for Snow and a Russian Victory
. Merchants are selling glasses with various slogans for various sizes of drinks. The marker for the smallest amount is "for snow and good weather,” an intermediate one is "for will to victory” and the line for a full glass reads "For a Russian Victory” (privetsochi.ru/blog/humor/40911.html
You Know You’re a Real Sochi Resident If …
Privetsochi.ru has published a list of 25 things that will instantly identify a Sochi resident from visitors. Among them is the ability to distinguish an Abkhazian from an Armenian or Georgian, a dislike of hearing anything about the Olympic, and an immediate smile if anyone talks about how terrible lines and prices are in Moscow (privetsochi.ru/blog/Flood/40909.html
HRW Says Human Rights Abuses in Sochi are of ‘Olympian’ Proportions.
In its latest report on Sochi, Human Rights Watch says that officials have abused the rights of residents, LGBTs and immigrants and that "the IOC, National Olympic Committees and corporate sponsors should urge Russia to end these abuses which violate the principles of "human dignity” and non-discrimination enshrined in the Olympic Charter, and work to prevent similar abuses by future Olympic host cities” (hrw.org/russias-olympian-abuses
Kadyrov Says He’s Bringing 400 Chechens to Sochi.
In an interview given to "Izvestiya,” Chechen head Ramzan Kadyrov says he is taking 400 of his co-ethnics to Sochi not because he has been assigned a quota but because he is such an enthusiastic fan (izvestia.ru/news/564623
CPJ Denounces Russia for Restricting News Coverage of Sochi.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has released a report detailing the ways in which Russian officials have limited honest coverage of what is taking place in Sochi. What is particularly a matter of concern, CPJ said, is that to get the word out, "activists havehaving to take on the functions of journalists,” a step that sometimes leads others to dismiss what they say as reflecting their own narrow interests. The Russian authorities,” one of the authors of the report said, "have cracked down on journalists, rights defenders and civil activists in a way not seen since the break-up of the Soviet Union” (cpj.org/ru/2014/01/post-51.php
New Yorker Cover Shows Putin as Figure Skater Being Judged by Putin Look Alikes.
The cover of the "New Yorker” this week shows Vladimir Putin in the guise of an Olympic figure skater being judged by five Putin look-alikes, an illustration that will recall the infamous behavior of the East German judges in earlier Olympiads. Barry Blitt, who drew the cover entitled "Jury of His Peers,” says that "Mr. Putin is a gift to caricaturists but to humanity in general, not so much” (washingtonpost.com/blogs/early-lead/wp/2014/01/27/sochi-2014-new-yorker-imagines-olympics-filled-with-putin/
EWNC Says Kozak Misled about Expansion of Sochi National Park. Russian Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak’s claim last year that Moscow had expaned the area of Sochi National Park is untrue, Suren Gazaryan of the Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus says. In fact what has happened is "not so much the increase in the area of the national park as the illegal redistribution of its lands” that has reduced the amount of land protected from despoliation and increased the amount available for commercial development (ewnc.org/node/13481
Caucasus Emirate Says Krasnodar is Part of Its Territory
. The Caucasus Emirate has released a map showing the still predominantly ethnic Russian Krasnodar Kray on which Sochi is located as part of its territory, a step Russian commentators suggest is nothing more than an aspiration but that is certain to frighten many ethnic Russians in that region and more generally as an indication that the Emirate’s agents may launch a terrorist campaign there (kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/237153/
Daghestan Vilayat Calls on Russians to Overthrow Putin or Face New Violence.
The militant group that has claimed responsibility for the Volgograd bombings says in a new message that Russians will face attack if they do not rise up and overthrow Vladimir Putin. "Gone are the days when it was possible to destroy Muslims gratuitously,” the group says. "Today, one mujahid could destroy doens or even hundreds of people in your cities … The Kremlin gang leaders make cannot fodder of you and your children,, while they themselves accumulate billions in this war. If you do not decapitate this hydra, you will not see a quiet life” (worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2014/01/26/22452703-militants-tell-russia-rebel-against-putin-or-else?lite
Reports Moscow Planning to Display Orcas in Sochi Spark Outrage.
Unconfirmed reports that the Russian authorities plan to put orca whales on display in Sochi have sparked outrage among environmentalists who say that the criticism Moscow has received on this score "may have forced the Russians to reconsider because at last report the orcas were still in Moscow (nwcn.com/news/Orcas-at-the-Olympics-241908411.html
Russian Bureaucrats Promote Sochi Not Out of Patriotism but to Save Their Jobs
. According to a "Svobodnaya pressa” commentator, Russian officials promoting pro-Sochi propaganda are doing so not for patriotic reasons or out of an interest in sports but rather because in the event the games somehow fall short of Vladimir Putin’s expectations, many of them could lose their jobs in what would literally be "an earthquake” as far as they are concerned (svpressa.ru/sport/article/81133/
Ski Resorts around Sochi Won’t Be Profitable, Russian Experts Say.
A group of Russian experts meeting in Novosbirsk said that the ski resorts around Sochi are unlikely to be profitable not only because the region has ever less snow cover because of climate change but also because of transportation and other infrastructure bottlenecks (globalsib.com/19226/
Astrakhan Hospitals Refuse to Treat North Caucasians
. Medical facilities in the southern Russian oblast of Astrakhan are refusing to admit residents of Daghestan, Ingushetia and Chechnya, on the basis of an order from the regional health ministry. Chechen officials have already complained that this practice violates the constitutional rights of the peoples of the North Caucasus (wordyou.ru/v-rossii/v-astraxanskix-bolnicax-otkazyvayutsya-prinimat-pacientov-s-kavkaza.html
Islamist Site Likens Putin’s Olympics to Hitler’s.
Pakistan’s Islamic Jihad Union, an ally of Al Qaeda, has put out a four-minute video likening Vladimir Putin’s Sochi Olympics to those of Adolf Hitler in Berlin in 1936. It says that as a result of Putin’s actions, "an atmosphere of fear and terror” now hangs over Russia (11alive.com/news/article/319786/40/Sochi-Olympics-threatened-again
IOC Marketing Chief Says Sochi’s Cost May ‘Scare Away’ Olympic Host Hopefuls.
Gerhard Heibert, the head of marketing for the International Olympic Committee, says that the enormous amount of money that Moscow has spent on Sochi may "scare away” possible bids by cities that otherwise might have wanted to host the games in the future. He said steps must be taken to reduce the costs of hosting the games (uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/news/sochi-2014-winter-olympics-must-reduce-cost-ioc-123743098–spt.html
Visa Problems, Terrorism and Lack of Upscale Hotels Keep Americans Away from Sochi.
American tourist agencies say that the Sochi Games appear on course to attract fewer Americans than have attened such competitions over the last 20 years, a reflection of problems with visas, fears of terrorism, and a shortage of upscale hotels. One touro operator said that few are likely to go to Sochi in the future either: "I don’t think many people are going to see this Russian destination they’ve never heard of in the opening ceremonies on TV in the dead of winter and say, ‘You know, that’s where I want to go next weekend,’” he said (seattletimes.com/html/travel/2022749340_sochiolympicstourismxml.html
Romney Says He’d Be ‘Comfortable’ Taking His Family to Sochi
. 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney says that despite security threats, he would be "comfortable” taking his family to Sochi. ”There’s never been a games I know of that have been so targeted for specific threats as you’re seeing in Sochi,” he said. "At the same time, the level of security preparations appears to be at an unprecedented level. So I think people can recognize that the hard sites will be safe. The athletes will be safe, spectators when they’re in the venues will be safe. But it’s the soft places you can’t be 100% certain will be entirely safe but my guess is the Russians have done everything humanly possible to protect the games” (13wmaz.com/story/sports/2014/01/24/romney-sochi-olympics-will-be-safe-despite-security-concerns/4821889/