31 Dec 2013

NZ athletes going to Sochi Games

10:16 pm on 31 December 2013

New Zealand's Olympic officials say deadly suicide bombings in Russia will not stop athletes going to the Winter Games in Sochi.

This is despite concern from the United States government that militants could be preparing attacks to disrupt the games.

More than 30 people have died in two bombings in the Russian city of Volgograd within 24 hours.

At least fourteen people died when a crowded trolley-bus blew apart during rush-hour on Monday and seventeen people were killed in an explosion at the city's central railway station on Sunday.

But New Zealand chef de mission Peter Wardell told Radio New Zealand's Summer Report programme there have been threats for several years.

"Having been there, and knowing the Russians, they will make Sochi something of a fortress making attacks extremely unlikely in and around Sochi.

"But I think as we've already seen, terrorists want to make a mark and they'll be doing that probably by looking at some of the easier targets in the large cities across the huge Russian nation."

Mr Wardell says the New Zealand team is taking its own security and police, and is confident it will be safe.

The International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, says he has confidence that Russian authorities will deliver a "safe and secure" games.

Mr Bach wrote to President Vladimir Putin to express condolences for the "despicable" attacks in Volgograd.