Fears of terrorism and actual concerns for the safety of athletes and spectators have been overblown, though, according to one high-ranking Russian official.
“The level of fear should be lower,” Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Kozak said Thursday through an interpreter, via USA Today. “The level of threat in Sochi is no worse than in New York, Washington or Boston. Based on information we received from our intelligence services, there’s no reason to believe Sochi is under more threat than any city on the planet.
“In any place, in any sporting event on the planet, it has the same nature,” he added.
Safety concerns have been rampant in the days and weeks leading up to the Sochi Olympics. The latest reported threat came just hours before Kozak’s address, with Department of Homeland Security warning airlines to be on the lookout for explosives disguised as toothpaste tubes on fights from the Unites States to Russia.
Kozak also echoed Russian president Vladimir Putin when addressing concerns that gay athletes and visitors would be arrested or discriminated in Sochi. The country’s laws only prohibit the distribution of “gay propaganda” to minors, according to Putin.
“We don’t differentiate between people depending on nationality, religion or sexual relations,” Kozak said. “We are all grown-ups, and any adult has the right to understand their sexual acts. Please don’t touch the kids, that’s the only thing.”
Olympic events began in Sochi on Thursday, with the opening ceremony scheduled to take place Friday night.
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