While Russia tries to assure the world it’s prepared for security risks following two bloody bombings in less than 24 hours, a Halifax man heading to the Winter Games says he’s confident in the security measures in Sochi.
More than 30 people were killed in the explosions Sunday and Monday, putting the city of one million on edge and highlighting the threat Russia is facing as it prepares to host the Games in February.
Olympic Games have been marred by tragedies before: the Munich massacre in 1972 and the bomb attack in Atlanta in 1996. The area around Sochi has for years been marked by political unrest.
Blair Landry is a professional hockey score keeper. During the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Landry recorded Sidney Crosby’s “Golden Goal” that won the coveted medal for Canada.
He said the news from the last few days is worrisome but said he is confident Olympic officials are taking all the necessary precautions.
“It is in a bit of a volatile region. I have a lot of comfort from having gone over over in April for the [IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship] … I think the Russians have a pretty good handle on it and I think it should be very safe,” he said.
Landry admits it’s easier for him than for his family to feel secure.
“Of course when the news comes out and when you’re the person who’s participating, you don’t think about it so much. You’re there, you can see the security. I know how difficult it was for me to get into the venue in Vancouver, with the accreditation I had. It’s easier for me, I’m there, I understand the security I’m being exposed to but for family at home, they don’t really know, so for sure, it’s harder for [them],” he said.
- Volgograd, Russia hit by 2 deadly bombs in 2 days
- Safety top priority in Sochi for Canadian Olympic Committee
Landry is set to leave in a few weeks. He said it’s terrible that some use the Olympics to gain international attention.
“I think it’s outrageous, it’s terrible. I understand why, you know, people are trying to make a point and this is a high-visibility event. It’s outrageous when you think about what is supposed to be the pure nature of sport to have this happen at these events,” he said.
IOC confident in 'safe and secure' games
IOC President Thomas Bach expressed full confidence Monday that Russian authorities will deliver a "safe and secure" Olympics in Sochi.
Volgograd is located about 650 kilometres northeast of Sochi, which will host the Olympics from Feb. 7 to 23. Russia's first Winter Games are a matter of personal pride and prestige for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russian authorities believe the two attacks were carried out by the same group. No one claimed responsibility for the bombings, which came several months after Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov threatened new attacks against civilian targets in Russia, including the Olympics.