Obama says he believes Sochi is safe, Americans should go if they wish

WASHINGTON Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:52am EST

1 of 2. U.S. President Barack Obama waves before he speaks at McGavock High School in Nashville, January 30, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said in an interview broadcast on Friday that he believes the Russian city of Sochi is safe and that Americans who want to go to the Olympics should go.

Amid questions about whether Russian security is sufficient to head off the threat of militant attacks in Sochi, Obama told CNN in an interview that the Russians understand the stakes involved in playing host to the international event.

Asked what he would tell close friends who wanted to go to the Olympics, Obama said: "I'd tell them that I believe that Sochi is safe and that there are always some risks in these large international gatherings."

But Obama said he would always feel better if the event were being held inside the United States "because then we have full control over what happens."

U.S. officials have expressed concerns about the level of cooperation with Russian security officials. Obama said the United States has a good sense of the security plan Russia has put in place to protect the athletes and spectators.

"The Russian authorities understand the stakes here. They understand that there are potential threats that are out there. And we are coordinating with them. We've looked at their plans," he said.

Obama said U.S. officials are not discouraging Americans from attending the Winter Games. Those who wish to go should check with the State Department and see what "prudent measures" they should take.

"What I would say is that if you want to go to the Olympics, you should go to the Olympics," he said.

"In these large settings like this, there are always some risk involved," he added.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Eric Beech)

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Comments (4)
4sight2020 wrote:
benghazi showed obama’s willingness to put americans at risk because the truth is polically inconvenient.

Jan 31, 2014 9:51am EST  --  Report as abuse
newlygrad wrote:
Putin is primarily facing terrorism at home, but why Obama isn’t himself going but encouraging Americans to pose as lab mice ?

Jan 31, 2014 11:57am EST  --  Report as abuse
UauS wrote:
What if something wrong happens in Sochi?.. The Republicans will be barking all around again. Not a very prudent statement for election year.

Jan 31, 2014 12:10pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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