The 2014 Olympic games in Sochi, Russia promise to be another memorable edition of amateur sport’s most important gathering. Countries from around the world are sending their best athletes to compete in Russia and they will be followed by massive amounts of spectators aiming to see the fierce competition. Canadian travelers must be advised that this version of the Olympics taking place in Sochi will be much different from the one Vancouver hosted in 2010. Russia, and this part of the world in particular, is host to a completely different set of challenges for those who wish to visit the country as a spectator.
Are tourist Visas necessary?
Yes, Canadian spectators will need a tourist visa to get into the country. Visitors to Russia must submit a form to the Russian Embassy that is issued by an official Russian travel company that contains a note stating they are a ‘Sochi 2014 Spectator’. In addition to the note, it is necessary to provide one of the following: entrance ticket (or e-ticket) to an Olympic event, spectator pass/registration card.
It is important to note that the application should be made at least 5 business days before entrance into Russia. To be safe, be sure to apply as early as possible due to the increased amount of applications during this period. Another important note is that most tourist Visas only last for 30 days so plan accordingly.
Security will be a topic of note throughout the 2014 Olympic games. The chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee stated he believes that these Olympics pose a larger security threat than any other Olympic games. Many Canadian athletes have decided to leave their families at home in light of these facts. Most notably, many members of Canada’s men’s hockey team have advised their families to watch from home instead of joining them on this journey. The NHL and NHLPA are both paying close attention to the developments in Sochi to ensure the safety of their players.
All this fuss for nothing?
Every edition of the Olympics is accompanied by security threats. It is essential that the host venue does everything possible to prepare for and stop any potential issues. Security threats tend to target public transportation such as trains and buses which means travelers should always be aware of their surrounding and alert authorities of any unusual behaviour. There has been a perception of insecurity created in the North American media but this must be taken with a grain of salt. Olympic organizers and Russian officials do not want this version of the Olympics to remembers for security problems so they will be taking every precaution necessary to protect athletes and spectators.