Australian snowboarder Scotty James says his family won’t be making the trip to next month’s Winter Olympics in Russia because he doesn’t want to be worried about their safety while he’s competing.
The Sochi event has been earmarked as a potential terrorist threat, Islamist separatists from the nearby North Caucasus region declaring war on the Games and all those who attend.
Last month there were two terrorist attacks in Volgograd, about 800km east of Sochi, in which 32 people were killed.
While the athletes’ village and competition venues will be in lockdown there are more concerns for tourists and visitors who won’t fall under the same security blanket, leaving James to decide with his parents that they shouldn’t attend.
“I’d feel like when I was riding and was competing that I would always be worried about whether they’d be safe or not,” James said in Aspen, Colorado where he was competing in the X Games.
“From what I have read in the media it seems like they’re targeting civilians which is where my family would’ve been staying, they would have been in Sochi, in the main city.
“I’ve got full confidence that it will be fine, it seems like they have got a lot of security there.
“But I just thought it would be better off them not being there.
“If by chance something did happen, I’d prefer to be sitting in my room in the athletes’ village knowing that my family were back home safe.”
While the likes of 2010 halfpipe gold medal winner Torah Bright had voiced her concerns about the Games and other athletes’ family members have decided not to attend based on safety and security issues, no Australian competitors have opted to pull out.