Officials Lack Olympic-Specific Evacuation Plan for Americans

But they reiterated that there are long-standing contingency plans in case of an emergency.

Workers construct stands for the 2014 Winter Olympics spectators in Krasnaya Polyana near the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, on Dec. 14.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
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Jordain Carney
Jan. 24, 2014, 1:02 p.m.

The United States re­mains con­cerned about ter­ror threats tied to the up­com­ing Olympic games, of­fi­cials said Fri­day, but, so far, there isn’t a So­chi-spe­cif­ic plan if evac­u­ation is needed.

“There are no spe­cif­ic evac­u­ations plans for the Olympics, per say, but”¦ our com­mand­ant com­mand­ers have on the shelves Amer­ic­an cit­izen evac­u­ations plans…just as a gen­er­al rule,” a seni­or ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said.

The So­chi Olympics, in Rus­sia, are sched­uled to be­gin on Feb. 7., but re­cent re­ports of pos­sible ter­ror threats — in­clud­ing a re­port that the “white wid­ow” could be in So­chi — have raised se­cur­ity and safety con­cerns for ath­letes, dip­lo­mats, and the gen­er­al pub­lic.

And so far, the Rus­si­an gov­ern­ment has yet to ask for help from the United States, De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel said, adding that,”we dis­cussed Amer­ic­an as­sist­ance in any­way we can help the Rus­si­ans. As of right now the Rus­si­ans have not re­ques­ted any spe­cif­ic as­sist­ance or tech­no­logy.”

A seni­or ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said that the Rus­si­an gov­ern­ment also hasn’t put in a “form­al re­quest for counter-IED tech­no­logy” in re­gard to the Olympics, adding that “no of­fer made of that tech­no­logy and as­sist­ance.”

Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials from both coun­tries have dis­cussed coun­terter­ror­ism meas­ures, but a seni­or ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said that pred­ates dis­cus­sions about the Olympics.

“We have been talk­ing to the Rus­si­ans about the re­gion­al se­cur­ity con­cerns we have, these are long-stand­ing con­cerns,” the of­fi­cial said.

But Hagel re­mained con­fid­ent that, if needed, the United States will be able to get Amer­ic­ans out of the coun­try, say­ing U.S. of­fi­cials “will have ap­pro­pri­ate ar­range­ments with the Rus­si­ans to do that.”

It is un­clear if that means U.S. of­fi­cials — either through the State or De­fense De­part­ments — would enter Rus­sia to re­move U.S. cit­izens, or rely on as­sist­ance from the Rus­si­an gov­ern­ment.

The State De­part­ment takes the lead on de­cid­ing how to evac­u­ate U.S. cit­izens when ne­ces­sary, and of­fi­cials stressed that at this point they are fo­cused on “prudent plan­ning”¦ just in case we’re called.”

The United States is also send­ing two ships in­to the Black Sea; they have yet to ar­rive.

As for se­cur­ity threats, of­fi­cials say they both ex­pec­ted for ter­ror threats to pop up, and ex­pect more as the Olympics draw near­er.

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