The New York Times / James Hill

Was Sochi Properly Vetted As Olympic Venue?

Did the International Olympic Committee overlook potential security risks when it chose Sochi as the 2014 Olympic venue.

By Elizabeth Hagedorn | January 29, 2014

​Ever since the 1972 Munich games, security at the Olympics has been a major concern.

It was that year 11 members of the Israeli team were taken hostage and eventually killed in an act of terrorism. (Via History Channel

This year, Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised his country's games will not be a repeat of what happened in Munich. (Via RT

Still, considering the number of terrorist threats Sochi's already racked up, it begs the question: Did the International Olympic Committee overlook potential security risks?

You'd think the location would have raised some red flags, given its proximity to Russia's volatile North Caucasus region — a region analysts have described as a hotbed of Islamic insurgency. (Via Google Earth

According to the International Crisis Group, the "armed conflict in the North Caucasus is the most violent in Europe today." In 2012 alone, it reports, 700 people were killed in the violence.  

Which makes the IOC's decision to choose Sochi over Pyeongchang, South Korea and Salzburg, Austria, all the more perplexing. (Via YouTube / TheRural20, acifvadm)

This 2007 IOC report was drafted to evaluate each of the potential host cities. It makes no mention of security threats specific to Sochi. 

Now, they awarded the games to Sochi thanks in large part to personal campaigning from President Vladimir Putin, who pledged to committee members his Olympics would go off without a hitch. But so far that hasn't been the case. (Via Channel One Russia

The threats began this summer when a Chechen militant leader used this video to call on his followers to use maximum force to disrupt the games. (Via Euronews

Then there were the deadly twin bombings back in October in the Russian city of Volgograd that killed dozens. (Via CBS

An Islamic group later claimed responsibility and vowed more attacks in Sochi. (Via ITN

And now reports of so-called Black Widow female suicide bombers planning to stage attacks within the city. (Via NPR

In response, Putin has promised to do "whatever it takes" to ensure safety — staging what is thought to be the biggest security operation ever seen at the Olympics.

But Russia analyst David Satter says the added security won’t change the fact that thousands planning to attend are "walking into what effectively is a war zone." (Via CNN

​Should anything happen, Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins argues the IOC should bear full responsibility: "[The IOC] should have denied Putin the internal prestige he craves, while depriving the insurgents of a major target, by removing the Games when it was still politically and logistically possible. Now they will have to hope Putin can avert a disaster."

The IOC's president said in a recent statement he was confident the games would be safe and secure. 

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