Safe Travel To Sochi: Expert Advice Ahead Of The 2014 Winter Games

Ahead of the Games, MedAire, an International SOS company, and Control Risks are sharing essential tips for all those travelling to Russia

As Russia prepares to welcome the international community to Sochi, there is much speculation and uncertainty surrounding the safety of visitors attending the event.

Ahead of the Games, MedAire, an International SOS company, and Control Risks are sharing essential tips for all those travelling to Russia.

The main risks at this year’s Winter Games are associated with movement in the security exclusion zone, which features a number of unprecedented measures. These include a large-scale deployment of security force personnel, the establishment of police checkpoints, restrictions to movement of people and vehicles, as well as surveillance of electronic communication.

Denio Alvarado, Vice President of Global Aviation Security at MedAire and Control Risks says:

“These security measures have been introduced due to the elevated risk of terrorism during the Games and are aimed at reducing the risk of an attack against Sochi’s transport infrastructure and key sports facilities. Anyone travelling to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Games needs to be fully prepared and aware of the challenges they may face.”

Dr. Paulo Alves, Global Medical Director of Aviation Health for MedAire, says there will be healthcare challenges for visitors:

“Language barriers and access to healthcare are key concerns for visitors travelling to Russia. Athletes taking part in the games are well catered for, but foreign nationals may be faced with significantly different medical care options than they are used to.


Access will be more challenging for the traveler and knowledge of the healthcare options and how to use them is essential. We strongly advise visitors gain a good understanding of the channels to follow or where to get medical assistance when they need it.” 

MedAire and Control Risks aim to help visitors prepare for potential challenges with the following advice:


Flying to Sochi


  • Sochi-Adler International Airport is the primary airport that serves the resort town of Sochi. There are several restrictions currently in place at Sochi Airport and all slots are tightly controlled by Federal Security Service (FSS) and the Federal Air Transport Agency (FATA). Many of these restrictions will be in place from the period that started 1 January 2014 and continuing through 30 April 2014.


  • Landing for business aviation aircraft is permitted at Sochi, however parking is not permitted and only a two hour window is granted before the aircraft must depart. This does not apply to aircraft carrying government officials, Olympic Committee members, or other arrivals that have a qualifying sponsor.


  • Security at the airport is jointly provided by Russian security forces and contracted security personnel who provide 24/7 monitoring of the perimeter, facilities, and ramps. A quick reaction force was developed and currently maintains a 24/7 readiness status to respond to airport specific threats. Additional security forces from the Russian Military and National Police Force are currently deployed in the area and will likely remain at the airport throughout the 2014 Olympics using it as a staging area for security force deployments throughout the area.


  • If any fellow employees are travelling commercially, remind them to pack liquids, gels and medicines in checked luggage when boarding flights. A security ban on liquids in carry-on luggage was announced on 8 January, although officials have indicated some medicines may be exempt. Advise your colleagues to check with their airline in advance.


  • Speak with your travel safety and security service about how you will be notified should an event occur in Sochi that could affect your safety or travel itinerary. Some providers, including MedAire, provide clients with email alerts and actionable advice to remain safe should an event occur.


While in Russia


  • Maintain flexible itineraries as traffic congestion is likely to be severe. For example, journeys from Sochi to Adler can currently take up to two hours at peak times.
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