Standing in line to check-in to my flight to Russia is probably not the best time to have second thoughts about travelling to the country. But how can you not when you’ve just received an email from the Australian Olympic Committee saying they’ve imposed restrictions on where our athletes can and cannot go in the Olympic city.
The threat of a terrorist attack had already prompted the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to urge Australians to exercise a high degree of caution when travelling to Sochi.
Welcome Natalie Peters to Snow It All. Broadcaster, journalist, skier and former ice skating ‘champion’ with an uncanny ability to sleep on planes. Nat is covering the Olympic Games for 2GB in Sydney where she is Deputy News Director. She will be filing exclusive blogs for us from the ground in Russia.
Now Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman has moved to clarify that degree. Athletes have been limited to locations within the security bubble of the Olympic Park Precinct, which is known as the Coastal Cluster, and three villages in the mountains above.
“We’ve chosen this area because we know it’s the most intense area of Russian security that’s been put in place,” Chesterman said.
It means downtown Sochi is off-limits, as is the town of Adler. It’s like being allowed to hang out at Sydney Olympic Park, but being banned from catching the train into Sydney’s CBD.
Chesterman says the Aussie contingent already in Sochi is feeling very safe, and insists these are just minor restrictions.
The terror threat clearly hasn’t been enough to put our athletes off competing at the Games. Snowboard star Torah Bright has arrived, after earlier saying she’d give it a miss if the political situation worsened.
“I sure as hell won’t be risking my safety just for an Olympics Games,” said Bright.
As for me? Well I boarded that flight, and am now halfway to Russia, looking forward to what will no doubt be a spectacular Olympics (it would want to be, given it comes with a $51 billion price tag).
In preparation for covering the Games I’ve enlisted the help of a private security firm and have undergone “Hostile Environment Training” (don’t ask).
But I will follow the advice of the AOC and stick to the Olympic precincts, because there’s nothing wrong with minimising risks, and that’s exactly what the team boss is doing with these travel restrictions.
Filed by Natalie Peters in Moscow.