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NJ Athletes Head to Sochi Despite Concerns About Terrorism

1-29-14

By Lauren Wanko
Correspondent

Olympic athlete and New Jersey native Kyle Tress is focusing on one thing in Sochi — his races.

“I’m extremely excited to be going to the Olympics. This is something that I’ve been working for 12 years now,” Tress said.

Still, Monmouth University’s John Comiskey says there’s good reason to worry about security issues in Sochi.

“This is the Super Bowl of terrorism. If you’re going to the Olympics you should be very concerned. It’s a viable target, you have a volatile area. It’s a target of opportunity,” Comiskey said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says Russia will do whatever it takes to ensure the security of the athletes and visitors, both in and outside of Sochi.

“We have adequate means available to us through the Federal Security Service, the Interior Ministry Armed Forces units, that will be involved in providing security on the water and in the air. If necessary, all those tools will be activated,” Putin said.

“They’re doing everything they should do. They’re being pretty transparent about what they’re doing,” Comiskey said.

Putin’s created a so-called “ring of steel” around Sochi. Comiskey says the heavy police and military presence creates a layered defense, which may deter potential terrorists, but encourage them to strike nearby.

“The terrorists may say, ‘OK well there’s 35 targets and 25 are really hard. These targets are hardened. Let me go elsewhere,” Comiskey explained.

“I’m not terribly concerned about the security in Sochi,” Tress said.

Tress is a skeleton racer.

“I trust the Russians to pull off a very safe game and I think it will be a terrific Olympic Games and I trust them to do their jobs and I think they will,” he said.

Tress’ family is traveling to Sochi.

“We too know that like anywhere, we have to be aware and we know what to do and not to do. We’ve been with him from the beginning of this and there’s no way we would ever not go to see him participate on this,” said Gail Tress, Kyle’s mother.

Kyle’s confident his family’s in good hands in terms of security in Sochi. As for how his team feels, he said, “The environment here right now, the feeling among the team is one of excitement. There’s no concern about safety. We trust the USOC to give us the information we need.”

“If a terrorist disrupts our lives, they’ve won. We have to demonstrate to the terrorist that we’re going to go on with our lives,” Comiskey said.

That means enjoying the Olympics, says Comiskey, and staying alert and aware.