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MC Professor Weighs In On Sochi Olympics Safety Concerns

By: Jillian Risberg Email
By: Jillian Risberg Email
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All eyes are on Sochi -- and its security.

Experts believe the threat level is extremely high, to the Olympic games less than two weeks away.

The concern is because of American athletes and those who want to travel to the games.

"The U.S. and the Russians are cooperating on this, but the U.S. is concerned,” says Dr. Mark Schaefer, chair of the Department of Political Science at Marietta College.

There is a dramatic security presence, larger than any other Olympics.

"A larger military presence in the region, so much so that some people wonder whether or not it would kind of alter the spirit of the Olympic games,” Schaefer says.

All Olympics will garner a lot of attention.

And any Olympics is going to have an increase in security, according to Schaefer.

“But this Olympics is probably a bit more unique because of its proximity to Chechnya,” he says.

The Sochi Olympics is about 300 miles away.

"Chechen rebels have engaged in terrorist strikes against Russians and against the Russian citizenry for some time now,” Schaefer says. “They've had strikes within the past three weeks. Chechnya has also drawn the attention of Al-Qaeda."

Al-Qaeda sees it as a place where they can give assistance to fellow Muslims.

"Seeking to create a state for themselves and things,” the professor says. “Although Al-Qaeda’s interests and the Chechen’s are not the same. But it is a place where Al-Qaeda has operated and where terrorism is at an increased threat."

Schaefer says not to take the increased security and threat of terrorism as a reason not to go.

"I would pay attention to the State Department issues, travel warnings and travel advisories,” he says.

Right now there is just an alert.

"Just basically a security alert from the State Department saying that Americans going to the games and athletes going to the games should use increased caution,” Schaefer says.

What it comes down to is striking that balance between keeping the public safe at the games and making sure everyone can also enjoy them.
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The Sochi Olympics are less than two weeks away.

Security concerns are giving U.S. athletes and their families something to think about as they get ready to travel to the games.

Dr. Mark Schaefer, chair of the Department of Political Science at Marietta College says the Russians are reacting pretty dramatically in increasing security for the upcoming games.

He says any Olympics is going to garner a lot of attention and have an increase in security, but Sochi is more unique because of its proximity to Chechnya.

"The Sochi Olympics is basically about 300 miles away from Chechnya and Chechen rebels have engaged in terrorist strikes against Russians and against the Russian citizenry for some time now," he says. "They've had strikes within the past three weeks. Chechnya has also drawn the attention of Al-Qaeda."

Schaefer says because Al-Qaeda sees it as a place where they can give assistance to fellow Muslims.

Although Al-Qaeda's interests and the Chechen's are not the same, it is a place where Al-Qaeda has operated and where terrorism is an increased threat.


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