Americans who plan to attend the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia "should remain attentive regarding their personal security at all times," according to a travel alert issued by the State Department Friday.
The department said that the travel alert will be in effect until March 24, eight days after the conclusion of the Games. The Olympics start on Feb. 7 in Sochi.
The alert comes in the wake of three suicide bombings (one in October and two in December) targeting public transportation in Volgograd, which is 400 miles from Sochi. The December blasts occurred within the same 24-hour period.
In a video message in July, the Chechen rebel leader, Dokka
Umarov, called on his fighters to stop the Games from being held on what he
called "Muslim lands."
Russia began implementing stringent security measures this week in of Sochi. Tens of thousands of Russian police, security agents, rescue workers and army troops are being deployed for the games.
"I think everyone now needs to be even more concerned about the terrorist threat that has reached the Russian heartland and is growing closer not only to the Sochi Olympics but is also affecting the transportation hubs that are so important to the Olympics," Zarate said.
The government also warned travelers that medical care in
the region is untested for handling the volume of visitors expected for the
Olympics. The department urged visitors
to consider purchasing private medical evacuation or repatriation insurance.
"The law makes it a crime to promote LGBT equality in public, but lacks concrete legal definitions for key terms," the government said.