How safe are the Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Games?

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With the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games just weeks away, the Government of Canada has released a comprehensive travel advisory for Canadians planning on attending the games.

The safety of the games has been the subject of wide-spread debate recently. According to the Government of Canada, North Caucasus-based terrorist umbrella group Imarat Kavkaz (IK) is the top terrorist threat in Russia —and likely the Olympic and Paralympic Games as well. In July 2013, IK leader Doku Umarov called on his followers to target and “disrupt” the Games.

So far, IK remains the only terrorist organization that has openly threatened to target the Games, but the Government of Canada warns that “other groups and individuals could attempt terrorist attacks.”

Officials in the United Kingdom have made a similar assessment of IK’s threat to the Games, stating that terrorist attacks are “very likely to occur” in Sochi during the Games, according to the BBC.

On Monday, January 24, the Government of Canada issued these additional advisories:

  • Public transportation: Whenever possible, limit your use of public transportation that is not affiliated with the Games. If you must use public buses or trains, be particularly vigilant and aware of your surroundings at all times.

  • Travel outside of designated Olympic sites: Be particularly cautious. There remains an ongoing insurgency in the North Caucasus, located approximately 150 kilometres from Sochi; consult our Advisories against travel to the North Caucasus republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan.

  • Prescription medications: Russian authorities have placed special security measures and restrictions on various items and materials, including prescription medications and medical supplies, at Olympic venues. Travellers are encouraged to bring a copy of the prescription with them and be prepared to show it to officials.

For Canadians planning on travelling to Sochi for the Games:

Canadians travelling to the Sochi Games should visit Travel.gc.ca for regularly updated travel advice and advisories regarding Russia and, more specifically, information regarding potential threats to safety and security during the Sochi Games.

Image: Atos International/Flickr

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Elise Belzil is a UBC graduate of Political Science and English Literature who enjoys "keeping up" with all things political and pop culture related. This former Albertan can be found around Vancouver indulging in sushi, good coffee, and great local beers.

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