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IOC Chief Confident Sochi is Safe Despite 'Cowardly' Volgograd Attacks

December 31 2013, 11:28

Head of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas BachHead of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas BachThe head of the International Olympic Committee has written to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to express his confidence that the country can deliver a safe Winter Games in Sochi despite the deadly bombings in the city of Volgograd, ria.ru reports.

In a statement sent to R-Sport, Thomas Bach condemned the explosions on a trolleybus and in Volgograd's main train station, which have killed at least 31 people, as a "despicable attack on innocent people and the entire Olympic

Movement joins me in utterly condemning this cowardly act."

"I have personally written to the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, to express our condolences to the Russian people and our confidence in the Russian authorities to deliver safe and secure Games in Sochi," Bach was quoted as saying.

"I am certain that everything will be done to ensure the security of the athletes and all the participants of the Olympic Games."

Russian Olympic Committee chief Alexander Zhukov said earlier Monday that no extra security measures would be adopted following the attacks because "all necessary security measures are provided for."

At least 14 people died when a bomb went off on a trolleybus in Volgograd Monday morning, less than 24 hours after an apparently similar attack killed 17 at the city's railway station.

Monday’s bomb blast, if confirmed as a terrorist incident, would make it the third attack on the city in two months.

 "Sadly terrorism is a global disease but it must never be allowed to triumph," Bach said. "The Olympic Games are about bringing people from all backgrounds and beliefs together to overcome our differences in a peaceful way.

“The many messages of support and solidarity from the international community make me confident that this message will also be delivered by the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.”

The 2014 Winter Olympic Games, a major prestige project for Putin and Russia, will open on February 7 in Sochi, which is about 430 miles (690 kilometers) from Volgograd.

The Olympic torch relay is due to reach Volgograd on January 20, when pole vault champion Yelena Isinbaeva is due to light the Olympic cauldron.

The Sochi Games are Bach's first as president of the IOC, following his election in September to succeed the outgoing Jacques Rogge.

In October, the head of a Federal Security Service department that deals with safety issues at Sochi said that "our security measures will be unnoticeable and in no way will inhibit the movements of Olympic guests."

He also claimed the measures would pale in comparison with the London 2012 Summer Olympics.

"If you remember London, on the roofs of houses there were snipers and rocket complexes, despite the protests of the locals. ... There were also military personnel on the streets, but we will not have this," he said.

Russian authorities are putting several areas in and around Sochi on lockdown from January 7 until March 21 as they look to minimize the opportunity for disruption when the country hosts its first Winter Olympics.

Russiafaces a huge security challenge for the Games because Sochi is located near to the country's volatile North Caucasus region, the base for an Islamist insurgency that has claimed responsibility for several terrorist attacks in recent years. Early reports indicate the perpetrator of Sunday's railway station blast had links to Dagestan, the country's most troubled province in recent years.

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