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Sochi says security not to blame for stranded fans

Sunday, 9 February 2014 - 4:13pm IST | Place: Sochi (Russia) | Agency: Reuters
  • Military trucks and radar device are seen near a road heading to the Laura Cross Country Skiing and Biathlon Centre in Rosa Khutor, near Sochi. AFP

Sochi Olympics organisers on Sunday admitted more than 10 percent of ticket-holding fans missed their competitions on the first day of the Games but it was due to late arrivals and not necessarily because of tight security.

Organisers said they had sold 92 percent of tickets for all the competitions with attendance figures standing at 81 percent.

"We definitely have a compact Games but a lot of people need to understand what the time for them to travel is (to the competitions)," Sochi Games spokeswoman Alexandra Kosterina told reporters.

Fans have to undergo stringent security checks as part of the Games safety operation with Islamist militants from the North Caucasus region having threatened to attack Russia's first winter Olympics.

Spectators have to undergo several checks, especially in the mountain venues, delaying their entry.

"Yes, we had some problems with the Russian mentality in a lot of ways that Russians like to come to the event not prior but as close as possible. We are tying to alert people...to come in advance," she said.

"That is why indeed we had an issue with a lot of spectators being late for the Games. We are working on it, we are trying to develop our communications and we hope that it will improve."

At the biathlon venue when competitions started the stands were approximately half full and they were never filled to capacity throughout the day, according to Reuters reporters.

"I am not saying it (fans missing competitions) was because of security," said Kosterina. "We had pretty full stadiums. We might have lost around 10 percent of people who showed up on the way.

"People are really working out the timing, how long it actually takes them to get to the venues, how long it takes them to cross the security barrier, so it is not an issue of security per se but of logistics." 


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