U.S. Issues Travel Alert for Sochi Olympics

By Paul Riegler on 10 January 2014
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Mountain Olympic village in Sochi

Mountain Olympic village in Sochi

The U.S. State Department issued a travel alert on Friday warning U.S. citizens to remain vigilant when travelling to Sochi, Russia for the Winter Olympics.

The alert said that terrorists have called for attacks on the Olympics and reminded travelers that the quality and standards for medical care in the region “differ substantially from Western standards.”

The Caucasus Emirate, a Muslim separatist group viewed as a terrorist organization, has threatened to attack the Olympics and, in the past three months, three suicide bombings have occurred in Volgograd, a nearby city.

The Olympics will take place next month.  The warning makes it clear that there is “no indication of a specific threat to U.S. institutions or citizens,” adding that U.S. citizens should nonetheless “remain vigilant.”

The warning also served as a reminder that a new Russian law bans “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” to minors. The law, which applies to Russian citizens and visitors, is seen as an effort to suppress homosexuality by making it a crime to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality in public.

The alert, which is part of a State Department program concerning “short-term” conditions that can “pose significant risks to the security of U.S. citizens, adds a practical note, namely that there may be a hotel room shortage in Sochi because some hotels are still under construction.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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