Winter Olympics: Safe to attend?

By KBJR News 1

January 27, 2014 Updated Jan 27, 2014 at 11:14 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- As the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi approaches, concern is rising among those planning to attend the events in Russia.

A Duluth woman who still plans to take in the international sports competition plans to do so by using extra caution.

The excitement over the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi is quickly fading into fear among many traveling to Russia for the games.

"I know from being there in the past that there are tons of KGB and security," said Beth Pederson, a Duluth woman attending the Olympics in Sochi.

Security which has only heightened.

"There may be a lot of waiting in line, there may be a lot of frustrations that happen."

Recent terroristic threats, missing suspected suicide bombers, and the abuse and disappearances' of a number of young Dagestan men in Russia are some of the reasons reports are declaring this Olympics the most dangerous yet.

"It's not about individual cases of torture that we encounter here and there. Essentially torture is the rule as far as counter insurgency in Russia is concerned," said Taynya Lokshina, a Russian woman part of the Human Rights Watch Committee.

Pederson says the last time she was in Russia security was high, but that the people made all the difference.

"The people are so friendly and welcoming."

But in order to stay safe Olympic game officials recommend traveling in numbers.

"I hope that I will be able to make friends and stick with them the whole time and not be alone," she said.

Pederson says regardless of the growing concerns over safety at the games, she's looking forward to practicing her Russian.

"I think it's difficult for Americans to blend, but I think it does help if you try to speak their language and you try to be kind to everyone that you meet 'cause they're all trying to be kind to you."

The U.S. Olympic Committee has advised all American athletes not to wear identifying clothing or colors outside of accredited areas, to avoid any problems.

On Friday Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the United States is making plans for evacuation of American citizens in the event of a terrorist attack.

Elsa Robins
erobins@kbjr.com

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