The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are preparing to get underway as teams across the world begin competing for the gold, silver, and bronze on Thursday evening.
Both snowboarding and team figure skating will be broadcast on Thursday, even though the Opening Ceremonies will not take place until Friday, February 7th at 7:30 p.m. EST. The Ceremonies will be held at Sochi's Fisht Olympic Stadium.
NBC is the official broadcasting network of the Games, and will stream coverage - everything except for the Opening Ceremonies - from Sochi on their website.
Amid the excitement of the upcoming Games, one question is clearly on the mind's of fans across the world; how secure will Sochi be? Ticket sales have proved to be dismal, with only 213,000 spectators expected in Russia. An estimated 10,000 of these travelers will be from the U.S.
In light of the bombings at the Boston Marathon almost a year ago, many of the would-be travelers are avoiding the Games because of safety threats. Back in the summer, the leader of Caucasus Emirate, a terrorist group, implored fellow extremists to wreak havoc on the Games, according to reports from USA TODAY.
As well, Russian forces have been relentlessly hunting a group of "black widows," the wives' of extremists who have been killed by the Russian military; three of these women are believed to have perpetrated two suicide bombings just 400 miles from Sochi two months ago. The deadly bombings, which took place in Volgograd, killed 34 people.
However, amid the security threats of "black widows" and other radicals, the measures in place to prevent terrorism are numerous; the Russian military is on high-alert and well-staffed, already checking travelers at train stations and other transportation hot spots.
The United States has prepared a Naval ship to be stationed nearby Sochi, on the Black Sea, to evacuate the thousands of American citizens attending the Games should the need arise. As well, former members of the special ops military group, Delta Force, founded a private security company that will be tracking its clients every move throughout the area, saying that they are able to locate a person within a 3-foot radius using their system. The firm, TigerSwan, is also working with Olympic officials and sponsors of the Games to provide tighter security.
CEO of TigerSwan, James Reese, says that they also have an emergency assistance team armed and ready.
Other officials and security experts are not quite as certain of the safety of fans at the Games, saying that while security may be tight at the events, it would be difficult to incorporate such a high level of the same security at all transportation meccas in the area. Also cited are the threats of terrorism that have already taken place.
Bill Rathburn, a former Olympic security director recently said, "This is the only Games in history where there's been an announced credible threat well before the Games. Since that threat was made last July, there's been at least three terrorist incidents that have demonstrated their capability of carrying out that threat. So I think it's very, very real."
Main image courtesy @Olympics via Twitter.