- The Washington Times - Friday, February 7, 2014

Secretary of State John F. Kerry says Americans should not allow concerns about security and terrorism scare them out of traveling to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where the opening ceremony for the games kicks off today.

“If somebody said to me, ‘I’m thinking of going to the Olympics,’ I’d say, ‘Go and have a terrific time,’” Mr. Kerry said on Thursday evening during a brief appearance on Comcast SportsNet.

While the secretary of state said “there’s been a lot of chatter about security and it’s a concern,” he added that “there’s huge security, there’s been an enormous amount of preparation.”

“I think everybody has to take precautions as we do anywhere now,” he said. “Look at the Boston Marathon for instance. Any sporting event, any global event, you want to take precautions. But I believe huge efforts have been made, the security is strong.”

Concerns about security at the Olympics have been high since last summer when Chechen terrorist Doku Umarov — a man Western analysts describe as the “Russian bin Laden” — circulated a video encouraging his followers to take action and disrupt the Olympics in order to bring visibility to the cause of the Chechen people.

While Russian authorities have erected a so-called “ring of steel” security posture around the city of Sochi, security concerns spiked in December following two suicide bombings that killed dozens of people on a public bus and at a train depot in the Volgograd — a city roughly 400 miles away from Sochi.

SEE ALSO: Passenger claiming to have bomb tried to divert plane to Sochi

Mr. Kerry appeared on Comcast Sportnet network after participating in an Olympic send-off event and ceremonial puck drop before Washington Capitals game Thursday.

An avid hockey fan and player himself, the secretary of state said he hasn’t been able to find much time to play since signing on as America’s top diplomat last year.

“Last time I skated was our family broom hockey game around Christmas,” he said. “So I got to get out there. I want to get out there. I just haven’t found the time.”

Asked whether it is hard to find time for a three-on-three game when traveling to places like Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Mr. Kerry responded that he does “see some rinks around.”

“It’s funny,” Mr. Kerry said. “I get excited occasionally in various places I go, but I haven’t been able to get out.”

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