Advice for Canadians Attending Sochi 2014 Winter Games
January 24, 2014 - The Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State (Foreign Affairs and Consular), the Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport), and the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, today issued the following statement for Canadians, as they make plans to attend the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Russia. The 2014 Olympic Winter Games will be held in Sochi from February 7 to 23, 2014, and the Paralympic Winter Games from March 7 to 16. Some events will also be held in the resort town of Krasnaya Polyana.
“The host country is solely responsible for the safety of all athletes, teams and visitors,” said Minister of State Yelich. “The Canadian government and its agencies are working with the appropriate Russian government agencies as well as like-minded allies to provide the safest and most secure environment possible for Canadians for the duration of these exciting events.”
“The Government of Canada is proud to support Canada’s delegation to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, and we encourage all Canadians—athletes, coaches, volunteers and spectators—who are planning to attend the Games to take every precaution to ensure their safety and security,” said Minister of State Gosal.
“Canadians should be aware that, although the host country will have special security arrangements in place at Olympic venues, this does not eliminate the risk of terrorist attacks,” said Minister Blaney. “Large-scale international events such as the Olympic and Paralympic Games present attractive targets for terrorists, including lone actors, and airports, border crossings and other sensitive areas remain particularly vulnerable. The decision to travel despite these concerns rests with the traveller, and such decisions should be considered carefully.”
The top terrorist threat in Russia—and the most likely threat to the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games—is from individuals linked to, or inspired by, the North Caucasus-based terrorist umbrella group, Imarat Kavkaz. In July 2013, Imarat Kavkaz leader Doku Umarov called on militants to derail the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games using any necessary means, and lifted his previous moratorium on actions of militants in Russia outside the North Caucasus. On January 19, 2014, the Ansar al-Sunna terrorist group took responsibility for the December 2013 attacks in Volgograd, Russia, which caused many deaths and injuries, and threatened further attacks if the Olympic Games were to take place. Imarat Kavkaz is listed as a terrorist entity under Canadian law. While Imarat Kavkaz is the only known terrorist group that has expressed its intention to target the Games, other groups and individuals could attempt terrorist attacks.
“Although consular services will be available on the ground, individual travellers need to take responsibility for their own safety and are strongly urged to register with the Registration Service for Canadians Abroad,” said Minister of State Yelich. “Canadians travelling to the Sochi 2014 Winter Games should take sensible precautions and maintain a high level of vigilance and be aware of their personal surroundings at all times and in all places. They should avoid demonstrations, exercise caution in public places, monitor local developments and follow the advice of local authorities.”
Canadians travelling to the Sochi Games should visit Travel.gc.ca for regularly updated travel advice and advisories regarding Russia and, more specifically, information regarding potential threats to safety and security during the Sochi Games.
Whether attending the Games as an athlete or to support Team Canada, Canadians should observe the 3 Rs of international travel:
- Read up on relevant topics such as travel health insurance as well as safety, security and local laws in the destination country by consulting our Country Travel Advice and Advisories. A page dedicated to the Sochi Games has been created.
- Register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service, so that government officials can contact and assist you in an emergency.
- Reach us 24/7 at our Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa if you experience problems abroad (by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +1 613-996-8885).
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