Thursday, February 22, 2018

Terrorist threat to Olympic teams called hoax

U.S. and European national teams headed to the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, have received emailed threats of terrorist strikes on their athletes and supporters if they participate in the high-profile event that is Russian President Vladimir Putin's pet project, news agencies reported Wednesday.

Although the messages received by the national Olympics offices continued to sharpen concern about security at the Games next month, the International Olympic Committee said the anonymous warnings lacked credibility.

"I am very pleased to inform everyone that both the IOC and the Sochi Organizing Committee … declared after the analysis of the letter that this threat is not real," Zsigmond Nagy of the Hungarian Olympic Committee was quoted as saying by Reuters.

U.S. Olympic Committee chief executive Scott Blackmun confirmed that the American team had also received a warning not to go to Sochi, which he said was relayed to security officials.

IOC officials told reporters at the organization's Swiss headquarters that the emails had been sent from a location outside Russia by a person who previously has made empty threats.

"It's a fake mail from a sender in Israel, who has been active with various threats for a few years," Wolfgang Eichler, spokesman for the Austrian Olympic team, told his country's APA news agency.

Britain, Germany, Italy, Slovenia and Slovakia also reported receiving threatening emails, the Associated Press reported.

The Olympics will be held from Feb. 7-23.

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