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Canadian travellers to Sochi for Olympic Games told to be wary


Security tight in Sochi. (Alessandro Della Bella photography)

All those proud parents going over to Sochi to see their Olympic kids fly down the ski hills or rocket down the luge are getting a warning from the Canadian government: Watch your back.

On Thursday, Canada's Minister of State Lynne Yelich updated its travel advice for those planning to attend the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The Olympics begin on Feb. 7 and the Paralympic Games begin on March 7.

The advisory basically says Canadians should try not to take public buses or trains, do not travel out of designated Olympic sites and whatever you do, leave your prescription meds in the hotel room and avoid the North Caucasus republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan. In the media advisory sent out on Thursday, that last part about the danger in the caucuses is highlighted in bright blue and underlined.
Late last year, there were two terrorist attacks in Volgograd - public rail and bus systems were targeted.

"We continue to advise all Canadians travelling to the 2014 Winter Games to take sensible precautions and maintain a high level of vigilance at all times and in all places," Yelich said in a statement.

While the host country is responsible for all athletes, teams and visitors, Yelich added the Canadian government and its agencies are working with the Russian government and "like-minded allies" to provide security for travellers during these "exciting events." 

Specifically, when it comes to public transit, Ottawa advises, "Whenever possible, limit your use of public transportation that is not affiliated with the Games. If you must use public buses or trains, be particularly vigilant and aware of your surroundings at all times." 

And, if you happen to be on prescription medication, a special word of warning. Russian authorities have placed "special security measures and restrictions" on various things like prescription drugs. If you are at a venue and you have your migraine pills with you, you've also got to have a copy of the prescription to show officials. 

If you actually make it to Sochi, sounds like you might want to think twice about leaving your hotel room. 

Tanya Talaga is the Star's global economics reporter. Talaga wrote about the $50 billion cost of the Sochi Olympic games in the Sunday Star. Follow her on Twitter @tanyatalaga




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