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Originally published Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 10:33 AM

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Sochi scene: Where are the foreign tourists?

Hardly any foreigners seem to be at the Olympics so far, despite Russian hopes that it will be an international destination.


Associated Press

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SOCHI, Russia — Olympic fans of the world, where are you?

Sochi is (more or less) ready for you to come to its Winter Games. Thousands of athletes, soldiers, journalists and herds of smiley volunteers are in place, eager to help.

So far, though, it seems like the only spectators milling about are Russian.

Dina Kobolenko is waiting for you at her tourist information stand near the Sochi train station, armed with maps of this subtropical resort on the Black Sea. She says that as of two days before the Games, she’d seen only a single foreigner — a South Korean. They couldn’t understand each other, though, so had to communicate in sign language.

Fears about terrorism and the hassle of reaching Sochi from points abroad may be keeping some foreigners away — and undermining Vladimir Putin’s plans to transform Sochi into a magnet for international tourism.

A train traveling between Olympic sites and downtown Sochi cheerily announces to visitors in English: “We wish you a pleasant journey!” But on a recent ride, its seats were half empty. And a sweep through four train cars found ... not a single foreign fan.



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