Olympics: IOC dismisses latest Sochi terror scare

LAUSANNE (AFP) - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday dismissed the latest perceived terror scare to the Sochi Winter Olympics after several Olympic Associations said that they had received a suspicious e-mail.

Federations from the United States, Britain, Italy, Germany, Hungary and Slovenia were among those that indicated they had received emails or letters with similar content, which were passed to the IOC security advisers for inspection.

In a swift reply, the IOC said: "We have been in close contact with Sochi 2014 on this matter and our line is as follows - the IOC takes security very seriously and passes on any credible information to the relevant security services.

"However, in this case it seems like the email sent to a number of NOCs (National Olympic Committee) contains no threat and appears to be a random message from a member of the public."

IOC president Thomas Bach, in Rio to assess preparations for the 2016 Summer Games, also played down the threat.

"Security is always a matter of concern not just at the Olympic Games but at any big event.

"That is unfortunately the world we are living in.

"But we are very confident - we know that the Russian authorities with their many partners internationally are dong everything to organize the Games in a safe and secure way," Mr Bach said.

US Olympic Committee chief executive Scott Blackmun said his group had received the threat and forwarded it to law-enforcement agencies.

"The safety and security of Team USA is our top priority," he said in a statement.

"As is always the case, we are working with the US Department of State, the local organisers and the relevant law enforcement agencies in an effort to ensure that our delegation and other Americans traveling to Sochi are safe."

In Britain, the director of communications of the British Olympic Association, Darryl Seibel, confirmed that they had received a suspicious e-mail but had been told by the IOC that there was "nothing of substance" to it.

"In addition we have had our own experts take a look at this and they have responded in exactly the same way by stating that this is nothing credible.

"Organisations like ours receive correspondence of every type and it is not uncommon to come across something like this that lacks credibility."

The Sochi resort in Russia is at the foot of the Caucasus mountains.

Islamist insurgents based in North Caucasus republics such as Dagestan are seeking their own independent state and have vowed to disrupt the Games in an effort to undermine Russia's President Putin.

Doku Umarov, the chief of militants in the Caucasus, threatened in July to stage attacks to stop the Games from taking place as planned from Feb 7-23.