Sochi Winter Olympics: Travel restrictions placed on Australian athletes after terrorist blasts

December 31, 2013 – 3:34PM

Michael Carayannis

Rugby League Writer

Australian athletes won’t be permitted to train or visit parts of Russia outside Sochi as terrorist attacks grip Russia with the Winter Olympics less than six weeks away.

Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates announced the measures in the wake of the bomb blasts which killed more than 30 people following two attacks within 24 hours in the southern city of Volgograd, about 700 kilometres southwest of Sochi, which will host the Winter Olympics from February 7-23.

“We share Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop’s concerns for the safety and welfare of our athletes and their families and spectators,” Coates said. “We will continue to work closely with DFAT whose representatives have attended our Sochi planning meetings.  We will impress on our athletes DFAT’s advice that they exercise a high degree of caution in Russia because of the threat of terrorist activity.


“And we will share with and impress on our athletes DFAT’s general travel advice for Russia and specific Sochi Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games 2014 advice.”

A concerned IOC president Thomas Bach has written to Russian president Vladimir Putin.The deaths have sparked concerns over the safety of athletes and officials ahead of the Winter Olympics. Bach said he expected a safe Olympics.

”This is a despicable attack on innocent people and the entire Olympic Movement joins me in utterly condemning this cowardly act,” Bach said. “Our thoughts are with the loved ones of the victims.”I have personally written to the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, to express our condolences to the Russian people and our confidence in the Russian authorities to deliver safe and secure Games in Sochi.

“I am certain that everything will be done to ensure the security of the athletes and all the participants of the Olympic Games.”

The Australian government is monitoring the situation while working with Russian authorities before making a decision regarding Australia’s involvement at the games. Bach said he would not allow terrorism to get in the way.

“Sadly terrorism is a global disease but it must never be allowed to triumph,” he said. “The Olympic Games are about bringing people from all backgrounds and beliefs together to overcome our differences in a peaceful way.

“The many declarations of support and solidarity from the international community make me confident that this message of tolerance will also be delivered by the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.”

The Sydney Morning Herald

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