(NEW YORK) — As concerns over security threats to the Winter Olympics in Sochi mount, House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said the safety of U.S. athletes can’t be 100 percent guaranteed and called on Russia to provide greater cooperation over security preparations for the Olympic Games.
“I cannot give them 100 percent guarantee,” King told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl today on This Week when asked whether U.S. Olympians would be safe. “The fact is that these are going to be very much threatened Olympics. Probably more than any we’ve had in our past, more than Greece, certainly more than London or China. So, no, it’s — I mean, everything is being done by the United States. But the fact is this is a dangerous region in Russia by the north Caucuses. There are active terrorist organizations there.”
King agreed with the U.S. Olympic Committee’s warning to American athletes to avoid wearing U.S. gear outside of Olympic venues to avoid being a target.
“Even though [Russian President Vladimir] Putin talks about the ‘Ring of Steel’ around the main Olympic venue, the fact is once you get outside that venue or even going from venue to venue there is real vulnerability,” King said. “I would advise the athletes that do everything they’re asked to do by the security team, by the State Department, by the FBI, because they may feel safe, they may feel secure, wander off or wear some indicator that they’re from the U.S. and just leave themselves open as a target.”
In addition to terrorist groups, King said a lack of Russian cooperation over security was a key cause for concern, saying “the Russians have not been cooperative as far as sharing intelligence.”
“Quite frankly, the Russians have not been cooperating with us or with other countries anywhere near the extent that, for instance, the Greeks or the Chinese or the Brits did,” King said. “This is a dangerous situation. Hopefully things will work out, but it’s nowhere near ideal.”
King was more confident about security for the upcoming Super Bowl weekend, when the Denver Broncos will face the Seattle Seahawks on Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
“I’m confident that everything that can be done is being done,” said King, who chairs the House Counterterrorism and Intelligence subcommittee and was briefed on the game’s security preparations. “To the extent that any athletic event can be safe, the Super Bowl will be. It’s really a model for cooperation with all levels of law enforcement.”
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Shelbie Harris, Idaho State Journal
Kevin Liptak, CNN
Tom LoBianco, Deirdre Walsh and Tal Kopan, CNN