Hungary Discredits Terror Threats to Olympic Athletes

Jan 22, 2014 7:54am

Reported by ABC News’ Kirit Radia and Dragana Jovanovic:

SOCHI, Russia — Hungary’s Olympic Committee says it has received a message warning its athletes about their security during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, which start Feb. 7.

The  committee  posted a statement on its website that quoted chairman Zsolt Borkai describing a “threatening message.” The committee said it was taking the message  ”seriously” and  had  passed it on to the International Olympic Committee.

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In an interview with Reuters, however, a Hungarian Olympic official said the message been analyzed, and it was determined that “this threat is not real.”

Other Olympic Committees, including those from Slovenia and Austria, received similar messages. An official with Slovenian Olympic Committee told ABC News that it had become worried after receiving an email titled “The very dangerous terrorist threat to Slovenian athletes in Sochi, Russia.” The Slovenian official said the scare was a false alarm.

The International Olympic Committee told ABC News that it saw no specific threat to athletes at the upcoming Winter Games.

“In this case it seems like the email sent to a number of NOCs [National Olympic Committees] contains no threat and appears to be a random message from a member of the public,” the IOC told ABC News in an email. “The email did not contain a threat  but an ‘opinion’ about security around the Games from one individual.”

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Terror fears have been running high in Sochi after Russia’s most-wanted terrorist, Doku Umarov, urged his followers last summer to target the games. Recent bombings on public transportation in nearby cities have also heightened fears.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has put in place one of the biggest security operations in Olympic history. Dubbed the “ring of steel,” it consists of tens of thousands of troops, anti-aircraft missiles and a massive surveillance program.

The U.S. State Department has issued a Travel Alert, urging Americans to be vigilant while attending the Olympics and the U.S. government has offered Russia its assistance. So far, however, there has been no talk of pulling out of the games over security threats.

 

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