Australian athletes have been banned to tour Russia in the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics. Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates has announced the restrictions on the country’s representatives in the wake of the recent terror attacks in the Russian city of Volgograd.
“None of our athletes will be travelling to or from Sochi by car, bus, or train; none will be training or competing outside of Sochi in Russia; and, none will be holidaying elsewhere in Russia after the games,” Mr Coates said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Families of athletes and all other participants of the Olympic Games, including media and spectators, should note the steps we are taking for the safety and welfare of our athletes.”
Mr Coates’ announcement comes hours after Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop expressed her concerns for the safety of the athlete representatives in the Olympics.
Ms Bishop told The Australian that they were mulling the possibility of outright travel ban for the athletes.
“The terror attacks are shocking and a reminder of the ongoing battle to confront extremism in all its forms worldwide,” she told the paper. “We don’t want to lightly prevent our athletes participating in any event for which they have trained for years, but their safety and the safety of their families and other spectators is of the utmost concern.”
The Olympics Committee shares Ms Bishop’s concerns, with Mr Coates adding that they will continue to work closely with the DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) to ensure the safety and welfare of the athletes and the spectators.
On Sunday, the city of Volgograd, which is just 700 kilometres away from Sochi, has been shaken by a bomb blast at a train station. At least 17 were killed, with many others were wounded. Less than 24 hours after the first attack, another explosion on a trolleybus ripped the city, killing around 14 people.
Sochi will host the Winter Olympics from February 7 to 23.
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