(CNN) - Nearly six in 10 Americans think a terrorist attack will likely happen in Sochi during the Winter Olympics, according to a new CNN/ORC International poll released Wednesday, two days before the opening ceremony.
Islamist militants have warned of attacks as Russia makes final preparations for the sporting events in the South Russia region.
Matthew Glen Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told a congressional hearing on Tuesday that authorities are tracking “a number of specific threats” of varying degree.
After a twin suicide bombing in the city of Volgograd – formerly Leningrad - in December, Russian security forces have cracked down on suspected militants in the North Caucasus republic of Dagestan and elsewhere in recent weeks.
But 57% of Americans still believe an attack is likely, compared to 41% who think it's unlikely.
Terrorist threats have long been a concern at the Olympics.
In 1996, shortly before the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, 51% believed there would be an act of terrorism, a forecast which unfortunately proved to be accurate. A bomb blast at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic park killed two people and injured more than 100.
Americans also have a negative perception of Russia as a whole, according to the survey. Fifty-five percent have an unfavorable opinion of the country, up from 40% in 2011.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also polls low among Americans. Twenty percent have a favorable opinion of him compared to 54% who have an unfavorable opinion. Thirty-six percent say they are unsure.
"There are probably plenty of reasons to dislike Russia, but one drag on the country's image in the U.S. is the Russian law concerning public comments in favor of gays and lesbians," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "That law is wildly unpopular in the U.S."
Passed last summer, the "gay propaganda" law makes it illegal to tell children about gay equality. It has been criticized not only by LGBT advocates but also by Western leaders, who have called it archaic and discriminatory.
According to the new survey, only 13% of Americans think the U.S. should have a similar law, with 86% opposing it.
The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from January 31-February 2, with 1,010 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
CNN's Ashley Killough and Greg Botelho contributed to this report.
The majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of Putin? Really? They must not have polled the ones that post here. I remember many a post praising Putin over their own President. A real communist.
We might watch some but between the gay bashing (see Putin's pictures) and now the dog killing . . maybe Russia and the sub tropical area should NOT have been the place to hold the snow less Olympics.
Mitt predicted there would be an attack in England during the Olympics there, but he was wrong. A few months ago, Putin was the flavor of the month love object of republicans, so I am sure he will provide ample security. If anything goes wrong, the wingnuts will blame Obama, though.
What exactly is our favorable rating worldwide?
This is pure pc politics. Russia will provide excellent security for the games. The critical slams on Russia are about Snowden and LGBT community not the lack of safety.