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US Lawmaker: Safety at Sochi Olympics Not Guaranteed

People walk at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort in Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi, Jan. 26, 2014.
People walk at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort in Krasnaya Polyana near Sochi, Jan. 26, 2014.
Michael Bowman
A U.S. lawmaker says the safety of Americans attending the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia cannot be guaranteed.  Republican Congressman Peter King, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, spoke on U.S. television Sunday.

King says he hopes for the best at next month’s Olympics, but security is a concern.

“The fact is that these are going to be very much threatened Olympics, probably more than any we have had in our past," the congressman said on ABC's This Week program. " I mean, everything [possible] is being done by the United States, but the fact is, this is a dangerous region in Russia, by the North Caucuses.  There are active terrorist organizations there.”

Russian security forces are reportedly searching for several suspected terrorists who may be plotting attacks during Olympic events.  Last week, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said preparations have been made in case it is necessary to extract an estimated 10,000 Americans expected to attend the Winter Games, prompting this comment from Congressman King.

“I think that is an indicator of how seriously our government takes this - the fact that there are real threats there.  Even though [Russian President Vladimir] Putin talks about the ‘ring of steel’ [security cordon] around the Olympic venue, the fact is, once you get outside that venue or even go from venue to venue, there is real vulnerability,” King said.

Hagel said Russia has not requested U.S. assistance to safeguard the games.  King criticized Russian officials for allegedly being secretive about any intelligence they possess about security threats.  President Putin has pledged to do whatever is necessary to ensure the safety of athletes and spectators alike.

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