Australian Winter Olympics chef de mission Ian Chesterman has dismissed much of the concern about the potential safety issues in Sochi as “security noise”.
Chesterman, speaking at the announcement of the Australian team for next month’s Games, said no athletes had expressed personal concerns to him about going to Russia.
It comes off the back of December terrorist attacks in Volgograd, 900km east of Sochi, in which 32 people were killed, and emails on Wednesday sent to the AOC and other Olympic committees threatening spectators and athletes.
“You are pretty aware of what is real security advice and what is real security noise,” Chesterman said.
“I think we’ve got a lot of noise going on at the moment.
“And we’re privy to a fairly high degree of good advice and solid advice.
“I think it is really telling for example that DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) hasn’t changed their warning, their travel advice to either Russia or Sochi.”
Chesterman has had first hand experience with a Games under the security spotlight, he was also chef de mission in Salt Lake City 12 years ago, an Olympics held five months after the September 11 attacks in New York.
With an estimated $US2 billion spent on security for the Games he was confident there’d be little too worry about.
“Going into the Games I think every one of the athletes we have named so far and the few that we’ve got to name will go there and should go there confident that it is going to be a safe and secure environment,” he said.
Torah Bright did tell AAP last month she “sure as hell” wouldn’t be risking her safety for the Games if the political situation worsened, but the defending halfpipe gold medallist is expected to participate.
Meanwhile the AOC said in a statement that it had passed on a copy of the threatening document it received to the Australian Federal Police.
“However the IOC informs us, in this case it seems like the email sent to a number of National Olympic Committees contains no threat and appears to be a random message from a member of the public,” the statement read.