CNN recently released the results of a survey that found 57 percent of Americans believe an attack is likely to occur at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. In the lead-up to these Russian games, many spectators are concerned that the games will be the site of violence, terror, or tragedy. There have been all kinds of threat warnings regarding the situation on the ground in Sochi. That being said, not all of these threats are created equal. Here is a rundown of some of the security threats the Sochi games might face, along with an estimation of how likely those threats are to actually pan out.
Likelihood: Extremely High
Cyber attacks are a serious concern at the Sochi games. NBC News reporter Richard Engel became the subject of a global news story himself after having two test computers get hacked “almost immediately” while in Sochi. In under 24 hours, both computers and his mobile phone were hacked. People who attend the games are at an extremely high risk of experiencing cyber crime.
CNN reports that flights to Sochi could be targeted by toothpaste bombers, terrorists who have figured out how to hide explosives in toothpaste tubes. While this news is disturbing, there have been no specific threats, and the Obama Administration has not issued any travel warnings to Russia.
Waterborne Illnesses or Sanitation Deaths
Journalists staying in Sochi to cover the games have been sharing their hotel experiences on Twitter. Some of the tweets are truly shocking, and feature images of contaminated drinking water or structural issues. There have also been reports that stray dogs have been roaming the hotels. Illnesses caused by contaminated water or other pathogens could cause severe health problems for those in attendance at the games.
CBS News reports that the area around Sochi is prone to avalanches. The mountains around Sochi are notoriously steep, including Mount Elbrus, which is 18,510 feet tall. Deadly avalanches are not uncommon in this part of the world. Back in the fall of 2002, an avalanche killed 140 people and caused extensive damage to buildings in the area near the Kolka Glacier.
Given the bombings that took place in the months leading up to the Sochi games, many news outlets are concerned about the risk of bomb plots at the games. However, because the threats of bomb plots are being taken so seriously, every effort is being made for intelligence agencies to stop any potential threat.