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The suicide bombings in Russia serve as a chilling reminder of what the Winter Olympics represent to terrorists: A high-profile target with more than 2,500 athletes, some of them world-famous, waving the flags of nearly 90 nations.
So, while many Olympic leaders offered reassurance on the day after two bombings 400 miles from Sochi killed at least 31 people, some of those getting ready to compete in the Games spoke of a different reality. They know their security is never a sure thing.
“I am concerned,” said U.S. speedskater Jilleanne Rookard. “I’m scared their security may be involved. I don’t know if I necessarily trust their security forces. But they don’t want a national embarrassment, either. I use that thought to relieve some of my worry. I’m sure they want to save their image and their pride.”
Indeed, the Russians vow the athletes will be safe, even though they will be competing in a city 300 miles away from the roots of an Islamic insurgency that has triggered security concerns for the Games, which start Feb. 7.
The country has spent a record $51 billion preparing for its first Winter Games and has promised to make the Games “the safest in Olympic history.”
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