Winter Olympics 2014: Security a major concern for U.S. officials as Sochi Games approach

Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Security at the Sochi Olympics remains a major concern for U.S. government officials as the Games approach.

The United States government has not outlined specific plans to evacuate its citizens from Sochi in the event of an attack at the 2014 Winter Olympics next month, senior administration officials said during a Friday conference call, on which they discussed security preparations exactly two weeks before the Opening Ceremony.

"There are no specific evacuation plans for the Olympics, per se," one official said. "There is no Sochi Olympics evacuation plan on the shelf, but if called on, [the State and Defense Departments] will work in cooperation" to produce such a plan.

U.S. officials reiterated that they're relying on the Russian government to take the lead on all security efforts at the Olympics, but that they've offered the assistance of the State Department and have made assets available in case they are needed. On Thursday, it was reported that two Navy warships will be stationed in the Black Sea, which touches the shores of Sochi, in the event of a terrorist attack at the Games. Officials would not elaborate about the specifics of that precautionary measure.

Concerns over terrorist attacks during the Olympics have been raised, with several terrorist groups -- notably rebel groups in the war torn North Caucasus region of Russia, which borders Sochi -- vowing to attack during the Games. Reports suggest that "black widow" suicide bombers may be ready to strike, whether it be near the highly-secure Sochi Olympic Park or, more likely, at so-called "soft targets" elsewhere in Russia.

An organization known as Caucasus Emirate claimed responsibility for December attacks on public transit in the city of Volgograd, about 600 miles to the northeast of Sochi, and the fear is that similar attacks could be planned at transit hubs athletes and spectators will use on the way to and from the Olympics.

American athletes competing in Sochi will be shadowed by U.S. diplomatic security agents at every venue during both the Winter Olympics and Paralympics, but officials insisted that it is typical procedure whenever the Games are in a foreign country.

An official dialed back after expressing frustration about the level of cooperation they've had with the Russian government during Olympic preparation, but admitted that communication is not as high as it has been in recent years, with Games in the United Kingdom, Canada and Greece.

Senior administration officials confirmed reports that American athletes were asked by the U.S. Olympic Committee to not wear Team USA apparel outside from official Olympic venues, simply calling it "good common sense" given the number of threats that have come in during the run-up to the Sochi Games.

More on the Winter Olympics coverage:

The USA speed skating uniforms are crotch-tastic

Entire Sochi Games will be streamed live by NBC

Here's what the medals will look like

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