Security for the 2014 Olympic Games has itself been under surveillance these months leading up to the Opening Ceremony. So today as we arrived in Sochi, there was no shortage of curiosity to what we would face once we stepped off the plane.
At the docks. It was a relief to see the security measures taken outside our ship at Adler dock this afternoon. Twenty police cars lined the street surrounding the Mt. Louis cruise liner, most sitting and keeping watch from inside while five or six directed traffic. Once we got to the dock, after the check-in process, something else surprised me. Before we went through the steps in the security line, the guards and policemen looked big, scary and intimidating, but once I took my spot at the front of the line I was greeted with a warm smile and help lifting my bag onto the X-ray belt. I was pleasantly surprised to feel both safe and welcome into their home country.
Walking to the Olympic Park. This is where I see security lacking most. From our dock to the start of the park, there was just one (unfinished) security checkpoint. Squad cars were still scattered about the streets every couple hundred feet or so, but I did expect to see more thorough measures for visitors and spectators on the walk to the venues.
At the Olympic Park. This is where the Russians seem to have security most on point. We couldn’t even get into the park area with spectator passes tonight because only ticket-holders were allowed to step into the security check point. The building was hard to see from the outside, but through windows we saw metal detectors, X-ray areas and body searches, and we could hear barking police dogs. At one point I saw one couple go into the small building and not exit until 10 minutes later. It will be interesting to see the security area at the start of the park when we head back in these next few days.
Despite all the hubbub, I feel sufficiently confident that Putin and the FSB know what they are doing keeping all of us safe during our stay in Sochi. These Olympic Games, after all, have been called President Putin’s “baby.”
BSU at the Games is a freelance news agency operated by 22 student journalists reporting from the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games through an immersive-learning program at Ball State University.