Safe in Sochi: The U.S. is right to offer help at the Olympics

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Concerns about security are growing as the Feb. 7 opening of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, draws near.

The proximity of Sochi to Russia’s troubled regions, its restive, majority Islamic republics, should have been taken into account when the International Olympic Committee made its initial decision in 2007 to award the event. Whatever concern there was at the time over security at Sochi was probably overcome for the committee members by a desire to give Russia its turn and not to suggest that it was incapable of keeping people safe from attack.

The preeminent question now is how to assure security at Sochi for the games. Even though there may linger in some circles a desire to see Russia’s heavy-handed president, Vladimir V. Putin, taught a lesson through problems at the event, that is unfair to everyone else concerned, particularly the athletes who have trained for years to represent their countries in the Olympics.

The United States has an important stake in seeing the games come off smoothly. The Department of State has issued a warning to Americans planning to attend. The Navy intends to station two ships in the Black Sea off Sochi, to assure surveillance and to be able to act if necessary to evacuate any Americans.

General Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Valery V. Gerasimov, chief of the Russian General Staff, met in Brussels Tuesday to discuss coordination of efforts to prevent attacks at the games.

All of this is appropriate. Successful Olympic games benefit the whole world, and disruption of them is to the advantage of only an unreasonable, violent few.

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