Olympic officials dismiss Sochi terror threat email as 'random message'
Published Wednesday, January 22, 2014 6:47PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 22, 2014 10:35PM EST
Less than three weeks before thousands of athletes are set to descend on Sochi for the upcoming Winter Games, at least two countries are reporting that their Olympic delegations have received threats of terror.
The Italian Olympic Committee said on Wednesday it had received an email containing “terrorist threats” involving the Winter Games, which will take place Feb. 7-23.
“The Olympic Committee has sent the contents of the email to the authorities in charge of security,” the body said in a statement.
Hungary’s Olympic delegation was the first to report the email, saying its committee and other nations have received a message, written in Russian and English, threatening their athletes with terrorist attacks in Sochi.
Officials however, are dismissing the threats as not credible.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) that the email is just a “random message” not to be taken seriously.
“(We will) pass on any credible information to the relevant security services,” the IOC said in a statement. “However, in this case it seems like the email sent to the Hungarian Olympic Committee contains no threat and appears to be a random message from a member of the public.”
The Associated Press reported that Olympic committees from several other European countries, including Germany, Britain and Austria, have said they also received a similar message. At least one spokesperson said the email is a hoax.
“It’s a fake mail from a sender in Israel, who has been active with various threats for a few years,” Austrian National Olympic Committee spokesman Wolfgang Eichler told Austrian news agency APA. “It’s been checked out because it also arrived two years ago.”
In a statement released Wednesday, The Canadian Olympic Committee said the safety of the Canadian Olympic team remains its “main priority.”
“The Canadian Olympic Committee has and continues to work very closely with government and security forces in Canada as a cornerstone of our preparation for Sochi 2014,” the statement said. “This preparation extends to a close collaboration with the Organizing Committee in Sochi and the host nation, Russia, who are responsible for all security matters relating to Sochi 2014. As with other Olympic Games, our safety and security measures are always adapted to each environment."
The statement did not say, however, whether it had received a similar threatening message, however, a board member told CTV News Team Canada has not received any threats.
Despite the assurances, talk of threats is sparking security fears among some Canadian athletes set to take part in the Olympics.
Phoenix Coyote Mike Smith, one of Team Canada’s three goalies, said Wednesday security at the games has been the topic of “huge discussion” in his family.
His pregnant wife and their two young children will not be travelling to Sochi, Smith said.
“It’s something that is unfortunate but it’s just way it is,” he told reporters.
The Vancouver Canucks’ Roberto Luongo and Daniel Sedin said they won’t be taking family members to Sochi due to security concerns. Luongo is competing for Team Canada, while Sedin will suit up for Sweden’s Olympic hockey team.
Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted his country can handle any terror threat. Security is a major concern in Sochi, a southern Russian town located not far from the North Caucasus, a region experiencing an Islamist insurgency.
With files from CTV News’ Janet Dirks and from The Associated Press