2014 Winter Olympics

President Barack Obama Talks Sochi Olympic Games in Exclusive CNN Interview

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks at McGavock High School, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn., about education. President Obama also talked about a fatal shooting  involving two students at the school earlier this week. This trip is part of a four-stop tour President Barack Obama is making to expand on themes from his State of the Union address. (AP Photo)
Uncredited/Associated Press
Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2014

President Barack Obama understands the increasing concerns from United States athletes and spectators traveling to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics. He urged every American making the trip to believe the Games are safe.

The comments from the 44th commander-in-chief came as part of an exclusive interview with CNN. The network's Jake Tapper and Chelsea J. Carter passed along his remarks about the safety situation, which has been getting a lot of attention.

Obama said the Russian government understands the entire world will be watching and that safety is the top priority in Sochi:

The Russian authorities understand the stakes here. 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 are putting in place to protect not only the athletes themselves, but also visitors there.

The President and his family won't be making the trip to Russia to attend the Games despite his strong connection with the sports world during his time in the White House.

Obama also made it clear in the interview that the risk during marquee international events like the Olympics is always going to exist. That said, he's confident in the planning Russian officials have conducted and thinks the Games can be safe for everybody involved.

Amid speculation of potential security breaches, Richard Engel of NBC News reports Russian security personnel state there's no reason to believe the Olympic zone has been penetrated by dangerous groups or individuals at this time:

The President did request during the interview that any Americans making the trip register with the U.S. State Department in advance and be aware of the safety tips provided by the department.

Otherwise, Obama is putting his trust in Russia's procedures to make sure the Games themselves are the main story in the coming weeks.

Safety is always a significant issue leading into these types of major events, but it's been an even bigger concern ahead of the Sochi Games. As long as everything goes off without a hitch and there are no security issues, the Olympics should be a success.


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