Russian No. 1 Maria Sharapova returned to her hometown of Sochi last week, ahead of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where she is a Games Ambassador. This particular event is riddled with safety concerns and security issues, yet Sharapova believes there is nothing to worry about.
“Once I arrived here, I knew that all the athletes will feel extremely safe,” Sharapova told CNN in Sochi. “I certainly had my doubts before, because I’ve been reading a lot about the city itself. Over the last few months I’ve been reading a lot of the media and watching television, but now I’ve seen how everything has come together”
Issues including bombings in Volgograd and reports of suicide bombers dubbed “black widows” readying themselves for operation during the Olympic Games, are amongst the serious concerns for many athletes and tourists.
Apart from the security concerns, Russia has been on the receiving end of a barrage of negative coverage regarding their anti-gay policies, which has prompted concerns as to how homosexual athletes would be treated at the event. While the concerns are legitimate, Sharapova is impressed with the extensive security and believes the 18-day event will run smoothly for all athletes present.
“As an athlete, security is really important. I experienced it in the Summer Games and really appreciated it. I think it’s extremely important and we all expect that kind of safety. For many years we were hearing whether everything would be ready or not: whether the the rail stations would be ready, how were the athletes going to go up to the mountains from the Olympic Park.
“All those questions raised a lot of concerns, but once I got here I realized that everything would be alright.”