Successive suicide blasts in Russia kill more than 30

IOC President Thomas Bach expressed full confidence yesterday that Russian authorities will deliver a “safe and secure” Winter Olympics in Sochi despite the two deadly suicide bombings in southern Russia that heightened concerns about the terrorist threat to the Games.

Successive suicide blasts in Russia kill more than 30

The International Olympic Committee said Bach wrote to President Vladimir Putin to offer his condolences following the attacks on Sunday and yesterday that killed more than 30 people in Volgograd.

A suicide bomber killed 14 people aboard an electric bus during yesterday’s morning rush hour, a day after a bomb blast killed at least 17 people at the city’s main railway station.

“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.”

Volgograd is located about 650km northeast of Sochi, which will host the Olympics from Feb 7 to Feb 23. Russia’s first Winter Games are a matter of personal pride and prestige for Putin.

Russian authorities believe the two attacks were carried out by the same group. No one claimed responsibility for the bombings, which came several months after Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov threatened new attacks against civilian targets in Russia, including the Olympics.

Bach said his letter to Putin expressed “our confidence in the Russian authorities to deliver safe and secure games in Sochi”.

“I am certain everything will be done to ensure the security of the athletes and all the participants of the Olympic Games,” he said. “Sadly, terrorism is a global disease but it must never be allowed to triumph. The Olympic Games are about bringing people from all backgrounds and beliefs together to overcome our differences in a peaceful way.”

Russian Olympic Committee chief Alexander Zhukov said there was no need to take any extra steps to secure Sochi in the wake of the bombings because “everything necessary already has been done”.

Nonetheless, the Volgograd bombings have brought home the security threat to Olympic athletes and administrators preparing to travel to Sochi.

Rene Fasel, president of the international ice hockey federation and head of the umbrella group of winter Olympic sports bodies, said security in Sochi will be similar to Salt Lake City when it hosted the 2002 Winter Games just months after the Sept 11, 2001, terror attacks in the US.

“It will be very difficult for everybody. People will complain about security,” Fasel said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“I’m sure the Russians will do everything possible, but that means we will have an unbelievable [tight] security control.”

Norwegian cross-country skier Marit Bjoergen said on Sunday that she was frightened by the first attack in Volgograd.

“It’s still difficult to say whether it has anything to do with the Sochi Olympics,” she told Norwegian broadcaster NRK. “This came suddenly and I need to find out more about it. But one is slightly prepared for this kind of thing to happen and, of course, I’m a bit scared. I’m counting that they will take good care of us and that we have good security during the games in Sochi.”

Gerhard Heiberg, a Norwegian IOC member who organised the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, said he was not surprised that bombings have occurred ahead of the Sochi Games, but voiced confidence in the Russian security plans.

“I feel that everything that is humanly possible is being done,” he said. “When we come to Sochi, it will be impossible for the terrorists to do anything. The village will be sealed off from the outside world.”

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