Former U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Friday during an appearance on NBC's Today show he would feel comfortable sending his family to the Winter Olympics in Sochi despite security concerns that seem to be mounting by the day.
Romney, who served as CEO for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City mere months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks said he believes the Russians have taken effective measures to secure areas within the Olympic zone.
"There's never been a games I know of that have been so targeted for specific threats as you're seeing in Sochi," Romney said. "At the same time, the level of security preparations appears to be at an unprecedented level. So I think people can recognize that the hard sites will be safe. The athletes will be safe, spectators when they're in the venues will be safe. But it's the soft places you can't be 100% certain will be entirely safe but my guess is the Russians have done everything humanly possible to protect the games."
A series of suicide bombings in southern Russia, likely set off by Chechen rebels who have previously threatened the Games, have raised concerns about the potential for a terrorist attack either in or around Sochi. The level of cooperation from the Russian government on intelligence issues has also come under question from U.S. lawmakers.
Some have also worried whether the concentration of police and intelligence forces around Olympic venues will create areas of vulnerability elsewhere.
Reports surfaced this week that Russia was looking for three potential "Black Widow" suicide bombers, including one who may have slipped into Sochi before heavy security measures were put in place in January.
Romney said those reports suggested the Russian intelligence system was working,
"The intelligence work is frankly the key to keeping the games secure," he said. "Yes, the hardened targets can have fences around them and patrols and so forth but in an area as large as Sochi you needs to have extraordinary intelligence work and that's what happened with our games that gave me confidence they'd be safe.
"Now and then we'll hear reports of an individual they're looking for. That suggests they have pretty good intelligence. All in all it seems to be a very effective security program but again, there's no 100 percent guarantee."