SOCHI, Russia - Being on a world stage, Russia has created one of the world’s largest security forces for the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. Nearly 40,000 guards walk the streets, look through bags and patrol train stations leading to events. Russia has pulled security from police and military forces and has set them apart from the volunteer force by cladding them in purple uniforms decorated in traditional Russian patterns.
The majority of security personnel can be found at checkpoints near the entrances of train stations and event facilities. Guards at these stations search bags and do a methodical pat down of passengers or spectators.
Malcom Kempt, a Canadian fan who came to the Games to support the Canadian National Hockey teams, said he feels safe knowing how many guards there are.
“There’s a police presence and military presence everywhere, but it doesn’t seem to be overwhelming for the spectators. And everyone is friendly. There’s a little trouble speaking English sometimes, but everyone feels safe,” said Kempt.
Going through a checkpoint is very similar to going through a TSA checkpoint at an airport. Spectators are greeted by guards at the entrance and guided to a conveyer belt, where they can place their bags and coats in a plastic tub. The tub goes through a CT scanner where a guard looking at a monitor can see what is inside the bags and coat pockets.
Spectators then walk through a metal detector, where they are greeted by another guard who gives them a pat down.
Elisbeth Goodfellow, mother of Michael Goodfellow, a member of the British curling team, said the security guards looked through her bags after they had been through the CT scanner and also gave her a pat down.
“They’ve all be quite thorough,” said Goodfellow.
Because of threats from militants, security personnel are being as thorough as can be to prevent a security breech at an event or train station.
Doug Fry, father of Lyndsey Fry, No. 18 on the U.S. Women’s hockey team, said the security is pretty much what he expected before he came to Sochi.
“It makes me feel better, and I don’t think it’s intrusive at all considering this is a dangerous time to live in. It takes five minutes,” said Fry.
BSU at the Games is a freelance news agency operated by 22 student journalists reporting from the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games through an immersive-learning program at Ball State University. For more, click here.