A new threat arose Tuesday (Feb. 4) as a number of athletes were en route to the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. On the heels of a series of letters sent to the Olympic committees of several European nations as well as the U.S. back in January which were ultimately deemed a hoax, the Vienna office of the Austrian Olympic Committee (AOC) confirmed today that it received an anonymous letter from Russia which includes a kidnap threat during the Sochi Games against skier Bernadette Schild and skeleton slider Janine Flock.
The Austrian press, who first broke the story, originally misidentified the threatened skier as Bernadette’s sister, Marlies, the slalom silver medalist from 2010.
The AOC released a statement saying that it was “not regarding (the letter) as an acute threat at the moment.”
“The letter was delivered (Monday) into our mailbox. We have immediately alerted the Federal Criminal Agency, which is investigating the case,” said Peter Mennel, the general secretary of the AOC. He was able to discuss the matter in person with Flock as they shared a chartered flight from Vienna to Sochi on Tuesday, and he added, “she is not worried, she trusts in our security measures.”
Bernadette Schild will not travel to Sochi until next week since the technical races aren’t contested at the opening of the Games. Mennel further assured the safety of Schild and Flock by noting that all Austrian athletes will be accompanied by Task Force COBRA (Austria’s counter-terrorism police unit) whenever they leave the Olympic Village.
The news of this latest threat was first reported by the Austrian daily Kronen Zeitung.
This article was revised on Feb. 4 after new information surfaced.