Russian officials ramped up security in Sochi this week as athletes began moving into the Olympic Villages.
The country is deploying more than 50,000 soldiers and police for the Games. Organizing committee chief Dmitry Chernyshenko told press members yesterday that Sochi, is "fully ready," adding that the city is the "most secure venue at the moment on the planet."
Sochi is nestled in a historically a conflict-prone region. And fears were heightened last month after a pair of terrorist attacks in Volograd (420 miles north of Sochi) killed at least 34 people. More recently, Russian officials announced that multiple "black widow" suicide bombers may already be in the city.
Many athletes are suggesting that friends and family members should not make the trip for their own safety. Ticket sales have been an issue. The San Francisco Chronicle reported last week that this year's Winter Games may see an especially low American turnout due to fears of terrorism, hard-to-obtain visas, and expensive flights. Chernyshenko, however, says that over 70 percent of tickets for the Games have been sold, with another 20 percent reserved for walk-up sales.
National Counterterrorism Center director Matthew Olsen assured the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday that Olympic venues will be well secured. "There is extensive security at those locations," he said, adding "the greater threat is to softer targets in the greater Sochi area, in the outskirts beyond Sochi, where there is a substantial potential for a terrorist attack."