By Nick Butler

Letters threatening terror attacks have been dismissed as a hoaxbut the security operation continues to gather pace ahead of Sochi 2014January 22 - A series of letters received by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and at least three National Olympic Committees (NOC) have been dismissed as "hoaxes" rather than genuine evidence of a terror threat ahead of Sochi 2014.

The Hungarian, Slovenian and Italian NOC's have all received emails today warning athletes and officials were "in danger and exposed to a terrorist threat" should they attend Sochi for the Games next month.

It is understood the IOC has received a similar letter and that there was a name attached to the emails but it has not been disclosed.

But in a statement sent to insidethegames, the IOC downplayed the credibility of the threat.

'The IOC takes security very seriously and passes on any credible information to the relevant security services," the statement said.

"However, in this case it seems like the email sent to a number of NOCs contains no threat and appears to be a random message from a member of the public."

The IOC and President Thomas Bach have played down security fears ahead of Sochi 2014The IOC and President Thomas Bach have played down security fears ahead of Sochi 2014 ©Getty Images

A spokesman from the Slovenian Olympic Committee told Reuters that the Committee has received a terrorist threat letter written in Russian, which has been "translated and forwarded to the police," while the Italian Olympic Committee admitted to receiving an email containing "terrorist threats" regarding the Sochi Games.

The Hungarian Olympic Committee (HOC) has made similar claims and secretary general Bence Szabo admitted a letter had been received and an investigation had already begun.

"The information is true, unfortunately," he told Nemzeti Sport

"A letter written in Russian and English was received at the HOC's international email account, threatening the Hungarian delegation to Sochi with terrorist acts.

"They also told us we had better stay home... obviously the HOC will not make the decision on how seriously to take the threat or, God forbid, to stay away from the Olympics."

Bombings on consecutive days late last month in Volgograd heightened security fears ahead of Sochi 2014Bombings on consecutive days late last month in Volgograd heightened security fears ahead of Sochi 2014 ©AFP/Getty Images

Hoax or not, the letters mark the latest twist to an ongoing security saga that is threatening to overshadow the Games when they get underway in Sochi next month.

Earlier this week, Islamic militants released a video claiming responsibility for the two deadly suicide bombings in Volgograd and threatened further attacks during the Olympics as the Sochi 2014 Torch enters the volatile North Caucasus's region from which most threats originate.

In conjunction with intelligence operations from the United States and elsewhere, Russia has responded with what has been considered the biggest security operation in Olympic history.

More than 30,000 police and Interior Ministry troops began deployment earlier this month, while measures to restrict vehicle access, the sale of firearms, explosives and ammunition, and protests which are not connected with the Games, have also come into operation.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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