WATCH ABOVE: With the Winter Olympic Games drawing near, security fears in Sochi are rising, but many Montrealers are still optimistic the magic of the Games will force politics into take a back seat. Rachel Lau reports.
MONTREAL – With the Winter Olympic Games drawing near, security fears in Sochi are rising.
This comes after suicide bombers killed 30 people in Volgograd, a city that is a travel hub to the Olympic site.
“The Northern Caucuses are full of Islamic militants that have bombed just this week two suicide bombers,” said Kyle Matthews, Senior Deputy Director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies.
“They’ve said really plain and loud they’re going to target the Sochi Olympics. So people going there should be very concerned.”
The Canadian Olympic Committee ensures athlete safety is their biggest priority.
“There’s some issue all the time at different Olympic games,” said Jean-Luc Brassard, Assistant Chef de Mission for the Canadian Olympic Team.
“The best way sometimes to get over these issue is to have a great performance, to share some positive thought.”
They’ve decided there’s no better time than the present to lift everyone’s spirits than with their campaign #WeAreWinter.
“We’re less than 40 days to the Olympics so now it’s time to get together and really give our support to the athletes there,” he said.
Yet, imminent terrorist attacks aren’t the only thing threatening what is usually a kaleidoscope of patriotism and sporting pride.
Russian officials say they are standing by their controversial anti-gay law.
“We’ve had actually some athletes say they’re going to wear rainbow flags to protest,” said Matthews.
“When they’re going to be at the opening ceremonies or maybe when they’re going to be on the stand receiving a medal or whatever, they’re going to be holding hands with someone of the same sex,” said Daniel Vaudrin of the Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association.
Despite a call for Canada to boycott Sochi, Brassard, a former gold medalist himself, said this isn’t an option for athletes.
“The Americans have said that the boycott that they did in the Moscow game in ’80 have absolutely served as nothing,” he pointed out.
“Boycotting is not a solution and it’s not what the athletes want at the end of the day.”
Many Montrealers are still optimistic the magic of the Games will force politics into take a back seat.
“It’s a great way of bringing different nations together and realizing it doesn’t matter where you’re from,” said one Montrealer.
“I’m hopeful that sport will come through but I do believe that the politics is creative havoc right now,” said another.
After months of protest and controversy – some of them still imminent in recent days – it seems Canadians may have something to look forward to in the lead up to the Sochi Winter Olympics.