President Barack Obama encouraged the estimated 10,000 Americans planning to attend the 2014 Winter Olympics to proceed with their plans.
In a CNN interview this morning, Obama said, "I would say is that if you want to go to the Olympics, you should go to the Olympics. And you know, we're not discouraging, in any way, Americans from participating in what is just always an amazing, wonderful event."
Among all the U.S. athletes, officials, judges, sponsors, and fans, his words are reassuring for those who are still on track to attend the Sochi Olympics. It is estimated that several hundred have canceled their long-planned trips, on the heels of nearby bombings, as well as threats of more violence by Muslim terrorist factions.
Obama has already stated that he would not be traveling to the Winter Games, due to “scheduling conflicts.” His stance mirrors that of numerous other world-wide leaders who are bypassing this quadrennial event.
Still, he believe that the Olympics will be safe, despite U.S. Department of State travel warnings requesting that Americans be vigilant at all times, and restrain from wearing flamboyant, patriotic clothing.
"The Russian authorities understand the stakes here," Obama said. "They understand that there are potential threats that are out there. And we are coordinating with them. We've looked at their plans. I think we have a good sense of the security that they're putting in place to protect not only the athletes themselves, but also visitors there."
Russian President Vladimir Putin is staking his reputation and that of the country to protect the 70,000 people expected to attend. He has assigned over 50,000 troops to man the perimeter “iron curtain” that surrounds the mountain venues, the city of Sochi, and the “coastal cluster” of indoor arenas in the neighboring Adler town.
The International Olympic Committee, who chose in 2007 to select Sochi as the host for these Olympic Games, is meeting with the Sochi Olympic Organizing Committee on Sunday to review the current state of security, and recommend any additional actions to be taken to further protect the Games.