With the Sochi Winter Olympic Games beginning Thursday, Russia is on high alert, and some Americans are saying they have legitimate reasons to worry about security at Sochi.
A CNN poll conducted on Friday and Sunday shows 57 percent of Americans believe a terror attack on the Winter Games is likely. The results of the CNN/ORC poll came out just one day after U.S. government officials said they have specific ideas about the level of security at Sochi.
On Wednesday, the Moscow Times reported security forces had killed a militant believed to have helped train the two suicide bombers who hit the southern city of Volgograd. The attack on a Volgograd train station and an electric trolleybus killed 34 people, raising fears of a possible terrorist attack on the Olympics Games being held in Sochi.
The CNN/ORC poll revealed that 57 percent of the 1,000 people polled said a terrorist attack at the Sochi Games was likely, compared to 51 percent who thought a terror attack would occur during the 1996 Summer Olympics Games in Atlanta, Georgia. In fact, those fears proved to be true. The poll also showed that 54 percent of Americans held an unfavorable view of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Another surprise was the view Americans had of Russia, with 55 percent of those being polled saying they viewed the country unfavorably. This was a big jump downward from a 2011 poll, where half of those polled viewed Russia favorably. It is possibly the unfavorable view may be the result of the controversial "anti-gay propaganda" law passed in Russia over the summer. A resounding 89 percent of those being polled opposed the U.S. having a similar law.
On Tuesday, Matthew Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told Congress there are "a number of specific threats" aimed at the Winter Olympics Games starting tomorrow. Olsen said the biggest threat comes from the Caucasus Emirate, which has publicly threatened to disrupt the games.
Describing sharing of intelligence with Russian authorities as "good." Olsen said the U.S. and Russia were tracking threats of "varying degrees" of credibility. U.S. security officials have told President Barack Obama that appropriate measures are in place to protect Americans at the Olympic Games. Needless to say, the U.S. State Department has updated travel warnings for travelers going to Sochi.