With the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia less than two weeks away fear is growing among athletes and their families about safety. President Obama’s administration has insisted it has plans in place to protect Americans at the Games, but now some families of athletes who are competing in the Olympics are considering canceling plans to attend, reports the New York Times. So far, no American athletes have canceled but the increasing talk of unrest in the region and possible terrorist attacks has meant that fears of what can happen is on the rise. And while the Obama administration has been trying to reassure Americans, their statements on the issue only seemed to add fuel to the fear fire.
The State Department, for example, is calling on American athletes to play it safe and avoid wearing their uniform out in public. “If you are an American Olympic athlete, you don't want to advertise that far outside the Olympic venues," a senior State Department official said, according to CNN, confirming an earlier Wall Street Journal report. For his part, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that the United States will be ready to get Americans out of Sochi if anything happens. "If we need to extract our citizens, we will have appropriate arrangements with the Russians to do this," Hagel told journalists, according to NBC News.
The reassurances and warnings come after the U.S. Olympic team, along with at least five other national delegations, reported receiving terrorist threats on Thursday. The messages were determined to be hoaxes, but on Friday a video by an al-Qaida ally emerged in which a militant compares the Sochi Games to the Olympics held in Adolf Hitler’s Germany in 1936.