Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Attending Sochi Olympics Raises Concerns for US Travelers

A recent blog post from brought to our attention the potential perils of taking the kids to a once-in-a-lifetime sporting event, the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

While attending big events such as the Olympics always carry certain risks for travelers, in Sochi some of them have been amplified by recent events. 

In advocating for Olympic-goers to purchase complete travel insurance coverage, analyzed in detail the U.S. Government’s recent notices: Visitor Information For Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Russian Federation Travel Alert

Their blog post included the following areas of potential concern:

  • Terrorist Activity – Russia and the former Russian Republics have been the site of terrorist attacks protesting various political groups.
  •  Inadequate Medical Care – Sochi itself, a relatively isolated region, may not have the proper medical care to handle emergencies 
  • Criminal Activity – Large public events typically attract more criminals who can interact with more unwitting victims
  •  Possibility of Prison or Detainment – In addition to spreading what might be considered unwelcome political viewpoints, the host government has made clear policies outlawing gay and lesbian activity.

To provide more information about the event and suggest the smart precautions every traveler should take, the U.S. Department of State is hosting a Google+ Hangout for the U.S. athletes, families, and fans preparing to travel to the 2014 Winter Olympics. 

On Thursday, January 30 at 1:00 p.m., EST, a week before the Games open February 7th, tune in and hear insights from the U.S. Department of State on what to expect at the Olympics.

State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf will moderate this discussion and provide information about travel to Sochi as well as services that the U.S. Government, through the consular sections in U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, can offer to U.S. citizen travelers. 

On hand to answer the public's questions will be American consular officers. A State Department Officer and 2004 Summer Olympics Gold Medalist will join the Hangout to share his experiences traveling overseas to represent the United States at the Olympics.

The Hangout will be broadcast live on the Department of State’s YouTube channel and Google+ page.

Questions can be submitted in advance via Facebook and Twitter using #AskTravelGov and tweeting to @TravelGov.

If you can't be there live, you can always check out the  U.S. Department of State website later or follow the hashtag #AskTravelGov on Twitter.

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