Italy gets ‘terrorist threat’ ahead of Olympics

Italy's National Olympic Committee (CONI) has received terrorist threats, just two weeks ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.

Italy gets 'terrorist threat' ahead of Olympics
The threats were sent by email to a number of Olympic committees. Photo: Shawn Carpenter/Flickr

The Italian committee, or Comitato Olimpico Nazionale Italiano (CONI), “received an email containing terrorist threats” on Wednesday morning, according to a statement published online.

“CONI has learnt that it appears to be similar to those sent to the International Olympic Committee [IOC] and other Olympic committees,” the sporting body said.

The contents of the email were not detailed by CONI, which said it had passed all the information to the authorities in charge of security at the Olympic Games next month.

The IOC, however, said the threat was thought to be a fake. “In this case it seems like the email sent to a number of NOCs [National Olympic Committees] contains no threat and appears to be a random message from a member of the public,” the organization said in a statement.

SEE ALSO: German Olympic team receives Sochi email threats

The email comes amid fears that the Olympics in Sochi, located at the foot of the Caucasus mountains, could be targeted by terrorists.

Islamist insurgents based in North Caucasus republics such as Dagestan are seeking their own independent state and have vowed to disrupt the Games in an effort to undermine Russia's President Vladimir Putin.

Doku Umarov, the chief of militants in the Caucasus, threatened in July to stage attacks to stop the Games, which are due to run between February 7th and 23rd, from taking place.

Earlier this week, Russian Islamists posted a video online in which they claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings in December in the southern city of Volgograd, which killed 34 people.

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‘Sochi police right to expel gay rights activist’

The International Olympic Committee on Tuesday defended the ejection of an Italian transgender gay rights activist from the Sochi Games, saying the Olympic Park and venues were not the place for demonstrations.

'Sochi police right to expel gay rights activist'
"Olympic venues are not for us the place for demonstrations," a spokesman from the International Olympic Committee said. Image: International Olympic Committee/IOC

Activist Vladimir Luxuria, a former Italian MP, was briefly held by Russian police on Sunday evening and was again escorted from the Olympic Park on Monday evening.

According to reports, Luxuria, dressed in rainbow colours of the gay rights movement, on the first occasion tried to brandish the slogan "Gay is ok" and on the second attempted to shout it at an ice hockey match.

She was on Sunday evening escorted out of the Olympic Park by Russian police but does not appear to have been formally arrested.

"What happened yesterday is a little bit unclear, I understand she was in the Park, walking around, taking to spectators," said IOC spokesman Mark Adams.

"Some people were pro, some were against, some were very against," he commented.

He said that Luxuria continued to demonstrate when the activist was at the ice hockey venue in the Olympic Park "and I believe she was escorted from there, peacefully, and not detained."

But he added: "The Olympic Park, the Olympic venues are not for us the place for demonstrations, whether we are sympathetic or not.

"This [issue] has split opinions around the world so we would ask anyone to make their case somewhere else."

The controversy comes after the furore that preceded the Games over Russia's now notorious law passed in 2013 that bans the promotion of "gay propaganda" to minors.

According to a statement on her website, Luxuria is now to leave Russia after having been declared "persona non grata" in the country. However the expulsion has not been confirmed by Russian officials.

READ MORE: Italian arrested in Sochi for holding gay banner

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