Winter Olympics will be safe, says rabbi of Sochi

Security experts and local Jewish figures have dismissed reports of terror threats during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics opening next week in Russia.

“Friends from America and Israel have been calling me worried,” said the Rabbi of Sochi, Ari Edelkopf. “I tell them it’s safer here than where they are. I don’t have any worries, this is normally a very safe city, probably the safest in Russia and the security for the Olympics is incredible.”

Around 140,000 Russian security personnel have been brought into the city for the Olympics, which Chechen terrorists have sworn to disrupt. Two Islamist suicide bombings took place last month in the city of Volgograd.

Threats emailed last week to a number of Olympic delegations warning them not to arrive in Sochi were most likely a hoax. They seem to have originated from a sender in Israel who has been involved in such hoaxes in the past. The threat posed by the Caucasus Emirate, an Islamist group that has carried out a string of attacks in Russia in the past is, however, being taken very seriously.

“The Chechen terror threat is very real,” said an Israeli security official, “but it is much more likely that they will try to attack during the Olympics in another location, rather than Sochi, which is well defended.” The small Israeli delegation to the games, which includes three athletes, will be accompanied by Israeli bodyguards.

Last updated: 7:45am, January 31 2014