US issues Sochi Olympics travel alert

Washington, DC ( - The State Department has issued a travel alert for Americans going to the Sochi Olympics.

The State Department said on Friday that Americans traveling to Russia for the Olympic and Paralympic Games "should remain attentive regarding their personal security at all times."

The Olympics run from Feb. 2-23 and the Paralympics from March 7-23. The State Department said the alert expires on March 24.

It noted that acts of terrorism including bombings and hostage-taking occur in Russia and pointed to three suicide bombings targeting public transportation in the city of Volgograd, which is 600 miles from Sochi.

Two of the bombings occurred in a 24-hour period last month, raising new fears the Olympics could be a potential target of terrorism.

The State Department warned that medical capacity and infrastructure in the region are untested for an event the size of the Olympics and urged Americans to avoid crowds away from areas with enhanced security and to use caution in areas where there are protests, demonstrations or other public disturbances.

The State Department also mentioned the law passed last year that makes it a crime in Russia to promote LGBT equality in public. Foreigners found guilty of breaking the law could face fines and even jail time.

The U.S. Embassy continues to monitor the security situation and will alert the public if it receives information about a "specific and credible threat," the State Department said.

Americans traveling to Russia can enroll in the department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) online at or in person at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Travelers enrolled in the program will receive safety and security updates and can be more easily contacted in the event of an emergency.