Welcome to Sochi, Russia where the 2014 Winter Olympic Games are displaying international sportsmanship, competition and unity – all while wrapped in a maximum-security blanket.
This year’s Winter Games have grown to become one of the most controversial Olympics in history.
Chechen terrorists have twice threatened the global event prior to opening ceremonies. Russian officials have linked them to two suicide bombings which occurred in December 2013 in Volgograd, about 640 kilometres from Sochi.
As the fear increases, athletes, officials and spectators are questioning their own safety.
Athletes have told their families to stay home and national teams are taking special security precautions.
The event has been very well publicized as being Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal project.
He can’t afford for anything to go array after he quadrupled the original budget by spending a total of $51 billion, making it the most expensive Olympics in history.
Of that budget, $3 billion has been dedicated to maintaining the “ring of steel,” – a term being used to describe the extreme security measures around Sochi.
Some think the extreme measures will bog down the festive atmosphere but Russia deserves kudos for its intense and necessary security plans.
With hundreds of thousands of people at risk daily, Putin is taking no chances with security.
The “ring of steel” consists of constant eyes from the ground, sea and sky.
More than 50,000 Russian police and soldiers along with 410 paramilitary Cosacks are sweeping the city, checking sewers for explosives and using emergency vehicles to sweep the areas around the Olympic districts.
The Russian Navy is patrolling the Black Sea while using sonar to sweep for submarines.
In case any Caucasus militants attempt to cross the mountains outside Sochi, a battalion of Russian special forces, known as Spetsnaz, are there maintaining a position.
Getting near or into the Olympic area is where the strictest policies are in place.
Police checkpoints are set up outside, stopping any cars and buses.
Drivers and passengers will need to present proper passes as well as submit to complete searches.
When entering the Olympic Village, visitors are being put through body and luggage screening as well as having to show necessary documentation.
Though the Sochi Games have been controversial, the show must go on and with it comes high security measures.