Bermuda not deterred by terrorist threat
Judy Simons, the Bermuda Olympic Association president, said there are no plans at this stage to withdraw Tucker Murphy from the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in the wake of recent terrorist threats.
Two men, said by Islamist militants to have orchestrated last month’s suicide attacks that killed at least 34 in the Russian city of Volgograd, appeared in a video donning explosive belts and warning Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, and visiting tourists to expect a “present” at next month’s Games from fighters following their example.
The video was posted by a group identifying itself as Vilayat Dagestan and appeared on a website used frequently by militants from Russia’s northern Caucasus region, where Moscow has been battling insurgency for more than a decade.
In response to the threat, Simons said: “First and foremost, the Olympic Association has had no conversation with the Ministry [of Sport] with regards to any positions that should or should not be taken.
“Leading up to most Olympic Games, there is always somebody trying to test the security system in some way or form, which is a real crying shame because it is only to the detriment of the athletes.
“Our position at this particular time, in the conversations we have had with the chef de mission [Chuck Millican], the manager and the athlete himself is that we will maintain vigilance with regards to how this is all being played out.
If Tucker feels insecure in any way, shape or form about competing and he decides to withdraw from the Games, we will support him 110 per cent because our first and only concern is the safety of our Bermuda team.
“No further conversation has taken place with reference to what we should or should not do, but we will watch the news and get any updates from the International Olympic Committee and at that point in time, should we feel uncomfortable then we will meet with the team and make a decision. But at the moment, it is all systems go and we support Tucker’s participation in these Games.”
To ensure safety, President Putin has launched massive security around Sochi involving about 37,000 security personnel and tightened security nationwide. “Wherever we go, I have to believe that the country and the Organising Committee for these Games have every possible security measurement enforced knowing that thousands of people are going to be in that country to watch and participate,” Simons added.
“I have to believe that the Russian Government and the Russian people have everything in hand.”
The Winter Olympics will be held from February 7 to 23.
Cross-country skier Murphy qualified for a second successive Winter Games after reaching the B standard in the 15-kilometre freestyle in France this month. The 32-year old placed 88th in the 15km freestyle at the previous Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
“Tucker represented us well at the last Olympic Games in Vancouver and I am sure he will do just as well, if not better, in Sochi,” Simons said.
“Bermuda should be very proud to have someone representing the country in the Winter Olympics. There can be no prouder moment to represent your country than to be in the Olympics, so I am very proud of what Tucker has done and all of our Olympians.”
Murphy was in action at the weekend in the Switzerland National Cross Country Skiing Championships. He finished 22nd in the men’s 15km, posting a time of 46min 25.9sec.
Patrick Singleton, in the skeleton and luge, and luger Simon Payne are the only other athletes to have previously represented Bermuda at a Winter Olympics.
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