The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi will soon be upon us, bringing many athletes from across the globe. Other participants, however, may not be so welcome. Specifically, terrorist groups will also be looking to make history by causing irreparable damage to what should be a moment of celebration.
In a press conference held at Sochi last Monday, Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), addressed the readiness of the organization and the measures in place to ensure the safety of the athletes and guests.
“Sochi is fully ready,” said Bach during a report on NBC News.
The U.S. State Department has issued an official travel alert specifically to its citizens traveling to Sochi to “remain attentive at all times.” The alert continues by informing travelers that Russia had experienced bombings and the taking of hostages.
The current data only seems to give credence to the fact that attacks during the games have occurred more during the events than at other times, regardless of the security measures in place at the time. That leads one to wonder why the IOC has such confidence in their current apparatus. If an act of terrorism takes place during his watch, Bach will certainly be in an awkward position.
In the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the games were violently interrupted when a pipe bomb hidden inside a nondescript backpack that killed a person and caused severe injuries to over a hundred spectators, according to CNN. The perpetrator was identified as Eric Rudolph, who is now serving multiple-life sentences in prison.
The growing concerns for the safety of the athletes and their families do not stop at the IOC or the State Department. Some of the U.S. athletes have asked their families not to accompany them on their trip to Sochi.
Presently, given the events already unfolding in Russia, it is impossible to guarantee that the safety precautions are perfect and that all the contingencies have been addressed. Furthermore, it is impossible to predict that even though some of the terrorists have been identified, it is now safe.
Russian officials are currently seeking several suspects and the photos of the suspects have been circulated to the public. The fact that the posters exist is proof that Security at the games have already been compromised and that there is good possibility that a threat may be imminent rather than a possibility.
It is impossible to prepare for all the contingencies during an attack. It is up to IRC to develop a unilateral plan open to scrutiny by top officials in other countries and at the same time keep communication open to other countries so that in the event of a crises. Vital information as to the identity and characteristics of known terrorists groups in a particular county is shared. Logistics in troop movement and transportation, as well as countermeasures should be readily available to many countries regardless of its political implication.