Sochi warning: Winter Olympics is a terror risk for travellers

Updated: 
2014 Sochi Olympics

Terrorist attacks are "very likely to occur" between now and the end of the Sochi Winter Olympics on 23 February, government officials have warned.

The bomb attack in the city of Volgograd in December killed 34 people has raised major concerns and experts believe that this may not be the last of the violence.

So what are the risks to travellers?

According to the BBC, the group which worries officials the most is called Imarat Kavkaz, a Caucasus group which has said it will target the games.

One terrorist expert, who directed security for the 1996 Atlanta games, told Yahoo last week: "It's not a matter of whether there will be some incident, it's just a matter of how bad it's going to be." He named Doku Umarov as his main concern, a Chechen rebel leader who has threatened to disrupt the Olympics.

The Foreign Office has issued the following guidance for travellers: "Large-scale public events present an attractive target for terrorists. Travellers at the Sochi games should expect increased police presence and enhanced security measures in and around both the Olympic venues and the wider Sochi area. You should maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times and in all places."

It recommends monitoring travel advice from the Foreign Office, as well as local authorities and local media.

There is some comfort for travellers, however. The UK government questioned whether the groups would be able to successfully carry out an attack given the military presence at the games. There is a 'ring of steel' around the event, and tens of thousands of military personal will be stationed there.

Time magazine added that the US was taking precautions, sending two US warships to be stationed in the Black Sea, and FBI agents to the area.

The experts recommend that travellers should get within the 'ring of steel' as quickly as possible, and remain within secured venues.

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A BBC report claimed that the group which worries officials the most is called Imarat Kavkaz, a Caucasus group which has said it will target the games.

The latest warning comes on the back of earlier concerns from an expert who directed security for the 1996 Atlanta games. He told Yahoo last week that: "In my opinion, it's not a matter of whether there will be some incident, it's just a matter of how bad it's going to be." He named Doku Umarov as his main concern, a Chechen rebel leader who has threatened to disrupt the Olympics.

The Foreign Office has issued guidance for travellers. It said: "Large-scale public events present an attractive target for terrorists. Travellers at the Sochi games should expect increased police presence and enhanced security measures in and around both the Olympic venues and the wider Sochi area. You should maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times and in all places."

It recommends monitoring travel advice from the Foreign Office, as well as local authorities and local media.

There is some comfort for travellers, however. The UK government questioned whether the groups would be able to successfully carry out an attack given the military presence at the games. There is a 'ring of steel' around the event, and tens of thousands of military personal will be stationed there.

Time magazine added that the US was taking precautions, sending two US warships to be stationed in the Black Sea, and FBI agents to the area.

The experts recommend that travellers should get within the 'ring of steel' as quickly as possible, and remain within secured venues.