In the last few weeks we've had suicide bombers in Volgograd killing more than 34 people, and Islamic militants promising a "present" to organizers and visitors to Sochi in February.
At least five Olympic committees have received letters in Russian making “a terrorist threat” before the Winter Games, and security forces are hunting a woman suspected of planning a suicide bombing who is believed to already be in Sochi.
For any journalist covering a major event like this, the experience should be about reporting mind-boggling feats of skill and endurance. But Sochi feels different and I’m sure many – be they athletes or journalists – will travel to the Black Sea resort with feelings of trepidation.
There's nothing like the buzz of actually being at major sporting events. I've been lucky enough to be at World Cups, European Championships, Olympics, Champions League finals and tennis grand slams, but never before have I got to the point I am now with the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
I'm not naive enough to think there haven't been threats against these kind of events before. I know there have – the South Africa World Cup in 2010 and the London 2012 Olympics for starters. And unlike a lot of journalists, I've been lucky enough to travel to Sochi twice in the buildup to the Games, and have received nothing but a warm – and safe – welcome.
But as we get ever closer to Sochi, and the threats continue, those feelings of trepidation just won’t go away.
The U.S. State department issued a travel alert earlier this month, calling the Games "an attractive target for terrorists." And the U.S. Olympic Committee has put an emergency exit strategy in place for its team and delegation in case of any incidents. The British also have security measures in place.
A number of athletes I've spoken to in the last couple of months aren't going to enjoy the party as they have at previous Games – instead they’re going to spend the shortest time they can in the region, going in and out of Sochi as close as possible to their events.
There is, of course, the school of thought that while these threats should be taken seriously, Sochi could well be the safest place on the planet in February, and that it's elsewhere in Russia that will feel the brunt of the threats.
The International Olympic Committee has said it’s confident the Games will be safe, and Russia has established an unprecedented “ring of steel” comprising members of the police, army and security forces. In total, the Ministry of Interior says it plans to deploy 37,000 security personnel, compared to 12,000 police and security for London 2012 (with 18,000 troops on standby) – an event that was significantly bigger.
I want to go to Sochi, throw myself into the Games and give my all to telling the fantastic story of the likes of the Jamaican bobsled team, of Shaun White’s latest tricks as he aims for a third Olympic gold, and the controversial Norwegian cross country skier Marit Bjorgen. My role is to travel around the city and the venues, and tell the stories that need to be told.
But sitting in the cable car heading up the mountain at the Rosa Khutor alpine resort, glancing at the range that leads to Chechnya; or when I'm standing in the crowd at the bottom of the ski jump area and see someone shifty-looking with a backpack; or as I go through another security check point to get on the new high-speed train line between the coastal zone and mountain resort ... at the moment it feels like it will be difficult to shake off the pervading sense of security that appears to be enveloping the Games.
President Putin has talked of the Winter Olympics as Sochi’s moment to shine. And I really hope it does. The Olympics is one of those rare and special events where the eyes of the world are watching. And with the controversial buildup to Sochi – with the anti-gay propaganda laws, human rights issues and escalating costs – you’d expect even more eyes than normal.
The problem is, as we’ve seen in the past – with the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer Games, and the Centennial Olympic Park bombing at Atlanta 1996 – there are those who see it as an opportunity to get their voices heard.
Two years ago, despite all the security concerns, the London Games managed to create a remarkable atmosphere as fans flocked to its events. Let’s hope the same is true of Sochi.