Two Winter Olympic competitors from the Austrian team -- Alpine skier Bernadette Schild and skeleton racer Janine Flock, Europe's champion -- received threatening notes advising them to forget about competing in the Sochi Winter Games in Russia. The threatening letters warned the two young women that if they go ahead and compete in the Winter Games, they will be abducted, according to a report on Wednesday from Homeland Security Newswire.
According to HSN, Russian and Austrian counterterrorism units are investigating the kidnapping threats against the two female athletes.
The letters were sent indirectly to Schild and Flock via the Austrian Olympic Committee (AOC) and security experts believe they were most likely written by radical Muslims living in Russia's Caucuses. Similar threats were made by Islamists who claimed that they would target athletes, spectators and Russian police and security officers if the Olympic Games actually begin on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014.
According to the United Kingdom's Guardian newspaper, anti-terrorism specialists are checking whether or not the kidnapping threat should be regarded as real. However, according to the Guardian, "Threatening letters sent last month to delegations in several countries were deemed by the International Olympic Committee to pose no danger."
"We informed the minister of internal affairs and Austria's police [that] there is no actual threat at the moment," Peter Mennel, general secretary of Austria's Olympic committee, said.
"We have two security people here and if the threat is confirmed [we'll provide] additional security for the athletes," he said after flying into Sochi.
"Every big event nowadays is under threat," IOC president Thomas Bach said in Sochi on Monday. "We have to address this. The alternative would be to surrender to terrorists."
None of the other national Olympic committees have reported receiving threatening letters this week. Russian and IOC officials say they are confident that athletes and spectators at the Games will be safe.
Despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s repeated statements that his minions will take any and all steps to protect athletes and visitors, U.S. government officials and legislators remain concerned about the well-being of America's Olympic team, according to an Examiner news story.