Be Careful in Sochi, U.S. Warns Olympics Tourists

The State Department has issued a travel alert ahead of the Winter Games in Russia

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Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

A Russian police officer and a police dog patrol a street in Sochi, Russia, on Dec. 30, 2013

The U.S. State Department said Friday that events like the upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia are “an attractive target for terrorists” and advised travelers to the 2014 Games to be vigilant.

The Olympics begin February 7 in the Russian city of Sochi amid heightened security concerns, particularly following deadly dual attacks last month in Volgograd, about 600 miles northeast.

The State Department travel alert says Russian authorities are “taking appropriate security measures,” and there is no specific threat to U.S. citizens. But it warns that terror groups in Russia have called for attacks on the Sochi Olympics. U.S. citizens “should remain attentive regarding their personal security at all times,” the alert says. Other areas of concern include: Sochi’s untested medical care system in an area that has never hosted a major event like the Olympics, petty theft of cash or valuables, and the potential for protests to turn violent.

The alert also points lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender travelers to its LGBT travel information site before heading to Russia, which has come under fire for its record on gay rights that includes a recent law that bans “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations.”

The State Department also travelers to enroll in its  alert system so that it can more easily locate them in an emergency and send them updates directly.