BOISE -- Safety concerns for the Winter Games next month have intensified. The Russian Security Services is now looking for as many as four women assigned to carry out terrorist activity there.
KTVB spoke about the concerns with an athlete and news reporter and anchorwoman headed to Sochi, as well as a former CIA covert operations officer who lives in Boise.
Security is a big topic for anyone headed out to Russia for these games. While there is anxiety for those competing in and covering the games, safety concerns are not enough to keep them away.
The four women Russian security forces are now searching for are suspected suicide bombers from a region filled with Islamic fundamentalists, many who hate Vladimir Putin and want independence from Russia.
For years now, they have been trying to carve out an Islamic state, and there's been this brutal conflict with the Russian authorities. This is where the threat's coming from. And frankly it's in the backyard of Sochi, where the Olympics will be held, Former CIA covert operations officer Mike Baker, said.
Baker says the intent of terrorists would be to embarrass Putin on a global stage, and he says the fundamentalists have made it quite clear they will try something.
Former Bronco track athlete turned Olympic bobsled driver Nick Cunningham says athletes are trying to block out security concerns and just compete.
You don't want to think about all the bad things that can happen. Bad things can happen when I walk out in the street, Cunningham said. Same thing, people were threatening the Vancouver Olympics and nothing happened there. We're going into a different area. It's not as 'home' as Vancouver was. So it is a little different, but we believe the security is second to none up there.
Stephanie Stricklen, a news anchor and reporter from KTVB's sister station KGW in Portland, is headed to Sochi to cover her sixth Olympic games. She told us about her recent security briefings, noting this is more intense and she is more anxious than when she went to the Salt Lake games shortly after 9/11.
It involves things I can talk about, for example, we'll all have emergency phones. We'll always travel in pairs. We have to check in by text message every two hours, by phone and voice every four hours. And things I can't talk about and the things I don't know yet because I'll be briefed again once I'm on the ground in Russia, Stricklen said.
Despite some concerns, Stricklen is ready to go cover yet another Olympic games, and she says she's confident in all of the security measures the media security team is taking.
The only thing I can do is put my faith in the team that's assembled to make sure we're okay. There is no backing out. I want to be over there and experience this and cover this, no matter what the circumstances. But certainly, security is at the forefront of my mind, Stricklen said.
The Olympic games opening ceremony is on February 7 and can be seen on KTVB.