Austrian Olympic Athletes Receive Abduction Threat, AOC's Peter Mennel Confirms

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2014

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With the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, looming, questions persist regarding the host city's ability to guard against terrorist attacks and general criminal activity. One competing nation that will surely be on high alert when the Games begin is Austria. 

According to Eric Willemsen of the Associated Press, the Austrian Olympic Committee received an anonymous letter from Russia, which included a threat to kidnap skier Marlies Schild as well as skeleton pilot Janine Flock.

Austrian Olympic Committee general secretary Peter Mennel confirmed reception of the letter, saying that he first became aware of it on Feb. 3.

"We have immediately alerted the Federal Criminal Agency, which is investigating the case," Mennel said.

Mennel discussed the matter with Flock and said, "She is not worried, she trusts in our security measures."

Although it is unclear what individual or group might have sent the letter, Michael Shields and Angelika Gruber of Reuters are reporting that Islamist militants have already threatened to launch attacks at the Winter Olympics, while several other countries, including the United States, have received threats as well.

The opening ceremonies are set for Feb. 7, although the Games will technically begin on Feb. 6, with qualification for freestyle skiing and snowboarding as well as figure skating short programs taking place.

That doesn't give Olympic officials much time to get things in order, but there is a sense of confidence among them that the Sochi Games will be secure.

Per David Wharton of the Los Angeles Times, Russian organizing committee head Dmitry Chernyshenko called the 2014 Olympics the "most secure venue at the moment on the planet."

As seen in this photo courtesy of NBC's Dan Lee, there will be a heavy police presence surrounding the Olympic venues:

Not everyone is confident in Russia's ability to prevent violence, however, including Pete King, United States Congressman from the state of New York. King expressed doubt, according to Anderson Cooper 360 on Twitter:

The Games will go on despite these latest threats, and the security in Sochi will continue to be a question mark as the rest of the world looks on skeptically.


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