Society

All Visitors To Russian Olympics To Undergo Background Checks

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

A suicide bombing on Sunday that killed 15 people in a railway station in southern Russia is reinforcing mounting concerns over safety and security at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

No one has taken responsibility for the Volgograd attack, which took place about 600 miles from the Black Sea resort where the Games will begin in February.

Russia implemented sweeping security checks ahead of the games, including background checks for all visitors.

The U.S. Department of State website clearly states that in addition to a valid ticket all visitors must obtain a “Spectator Pass.”

“Applying for the Spectator Pass is part of the security regime for the Games and will subject the ticket holder to a background check administered by the Federal Security Service,” says the DOS.

Applying for the pass will provide passport details to authorities, who will screen visitors and check their identities when they arrive.

“Travelers are reminded that acts of terrorism, including bombings and hostage takings, continue to occur in Russia, particularly in the North Caucasus region, which is less than 100 miles from Sochi,” the website also warns. “Threats have also been made against the Olympic Games. On July 4, 2013, Doku Umarov, the leader of a U.S. government-designated terrorist group based in Russia, posted a video message online using inflammatory language and specifically mentioning Sochi.”

Russian authorities say there is a security zone set up around Sochi that extends 60 miles along the Black Sea. One month before the Games begin, security will no longer allow any cars to enter from outside the zone.

Special troops will patrol the mountains and forests near the resort town. Drones are also going to watch over the Olympic facilities, while speed boats patrol the coast.

Sources: Washington Post, Travel.State.gov, San Jose Mercury News