Australia to restrict movement of athletes during Sochi 2014 as safety precaution

Saturday, 01 February 2014
By Nick Butler at the Main Press Centre in Sochi

Restrictions of movement have been placed on the Australian Winter Olympic team following security concerns in Sochi ©Getty ImagesFebruary 1 - Restrictions have been placed on the movement of all members of the Australian team throughout the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, it was confirmed today.

The move, revealed by the team's Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman, is a means to ensure safety following a spate of security concerns in Sochi and follows other measures limiting the activities of the team during the Games.  

Based on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) warnings for Russia, athletes are limited to locations and attractions within the security perimeters of the Olympic Park Precinct, as well as the villages of Krasnaya Polyana, Esto-Sadok and Rosa Khutor.

This means they are banned both from downtown Sochi and from the district of Adler.

Chesterman described what he considers "some minor restrictions" on team movement, while insisting the Australian contingent already in Sochi is very much at ease.

"We know that the DFAT advice is to exercise a high degree of caution in Russia generally and in Sochi as well," he saidd after making the announcement.

"We think it is good practice to define what a degree of caution requires for our Olympic team.

"We've chosen this area because we know it's the most intense area of Russian security that's been put in place.

"The transport between the venues is absolutely fine - the only restriction we put in, in terms of movement between the clusters, is that they use the official transport system.

"We feel very comfortable coming here, everybody here has already experienced a level of security is in place - it's intense, but not heavy-handed."

Chesterman added that he shares the International Olympic Committee's "great confidence in the safety processes that have been put in place for these Games", but wanted to introduce some "minor, but important, restrictions on athlete movement".

The announcement comes after Australia named its largest ever team for a Winter Olympics...led by former champions such as freestyle skier Dale Begg-Smith ©Getty ImagesThe announcement comes after Australia named its largest ever team for a Winter Olympics...led by former champions such as freestyle skier Dale Begg-Smith ©Getty Images



This response was necessitated by two bombings on consecutive days late in December in the city of Volgograd - after which Australia were among the first nations to publically express security concerns. 

But the restrictions on movement has been replicated by several other national federations, including the British Olympic Association (BOA).

Following Australia's disappointing overall performance at the London 2012 Games, the restrictions also come after a series of measures taken to ensure better competitive fortunes in Sochi.

This includes limitations on the consumption of alcohol and the use of social media by Australian athletes and officials during the Games - although this will not be to the extent of a "blanket ban" as was initially claimed.

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