SOCHI, Russia, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Although the complaints about habitable hotel rooms, drinkable water and usable pillows might be legitimate, the concerns about a terrorist attack at the Winter Olympics in Sochi have been overblown by the media, at least according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak.
"The level of fear should be lower," Kozak said on Thursday through an interpreter. "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."
Kozak was speaking just hours after the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning to airlines that people might be concealing explosives in tubes of toothpaste on flights from the U.S. to Russia.
Prior to the Games, Russia pledged to create a "ring of steel" around the Olympic area complete with more than 40,000 security forces.
The terrorism talk has been "a little too much,” according to Kozak. "In any place, in any sporting event on the planet, it has the same nature," he said.
Following Kozak’s press conference, U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun was asked about the threat.
"I don't want talk about specific responses to specific threats because I think it actually impairs our security plan to do that. But I will say that we were made aware of it, and I can't really say anything beyond that,” Blackman said.
"The safety and security of our athletes and whole delegation is always the primary concern. As we always do we work closely with our State Department and our State Department is in very close contact with the local authorities. We react to situations as they arise but we also have a lot of planning exercises in advance and these games are no different than any other Games in that respect."
[USA TODAY] [Chicago Tribune]