News / Europe

Olympic Chief Pays Tribute to Victims of Volgograd Attacks

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach signs the Olympic truce wall during a ceremony in the Coastal Cluster Olympic Village at the 2014 Winter Olympics, in Sochi, Russia, Feb. 4, 2014.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach signs the Olympic truce wall during a ceremony in the Coastal Cluster Olympic Village at the 2014 Winter Olympics, in Sochi, Russia, Feb. 4, 2014.
VOA News
The head of the International Olympic Committee has paid tribute to the victims of recent suicide bombings in the Russian city of Volgograd, as authorities remain on high alert for possible terrorist attacks at the Sochi Olympics.

Thomas Bach made his remarks during a ceremony Tuesday at the Sochi Olympics village.

Bach called the ceremony a "rebuke to those whose motives stand in sharp contrast to the spirit of harmony and global solidarity" of the Sochi Games.
 
Bach also metwith Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, with final preparations being made for the Olympics.

Putin said the Sochi Games will leave behind a great legacy, noting preparation has already effected Sochi's "socioeconomic, cultural and environmental development."

Bach congratulated Russia on delivering on promises made to the International Olympic Committee seven years ago.

In other news, the Austrian Olympic Committee says it received an anonymous letter threatening to kidnap two Austrian athletes slated to compete in Sochi, skier Marlies Schild and skeleton racer Janine Flock.  Committee chief Peter Mennel said officials immediately alerted Austria's federal criminal bureau, which is investigating the letter.

The committee said Tuesday it does not regard the letter as an "acute threat."

Islamic militants from Russia's volatile Caucasus region have threatened to carry out attacks during the Sochi Games.  

A jihadist group from Dagestan in the North Caucasus claimed responsibility for the two suicide attacks that killed more than 30 people late last year in Volgograd.

Russian authorities have spent an estimated $2 billion to shore up security in advance of the Sochi Olympics.  Thousands of security personnel are patrolling what is described as a "ring of steel" around the Black Sea resort to prevent terrorist attacks.

Analysts have expressed concern about militants penetrating soft targets such as train stations outside the "ring of steel."

Opening ceremonies for the Sochi Games are on Friday.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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