Napolitano, Romney weigh in on safety, politics of Winter Olympics
January 5th, 2014
06:08 PM ET
9 years ago

Napolitano, Romney weigh in on safety, politics of Winter Olympics

Washington (CNN) - The head of the U.S. delegation to the upcoming Olympic Winter Games said the United States will work closely with host country Russia to ensure security, especially in light of the two recent terrorist bombings there.

“We want the Games to be safe, and we want it to be about the athletes,” said Janet Napolitano on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. Napolitano recently left her post as secretary of Homeland Security and was chosen by President Barack Obama to lead the Olympic delegation.

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The two bombings, more than 400 miles away from the Olympic host city of Sochi in Volgograd, have many on edge. Volgograd is a main hub for people traveling by train to Sochi.

Mitt Romney, who was the CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympics, weighed in on Sunday with both caution and optimism, noting the United States hosted the Winter Games just months after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“There was concern during our Olympics during 2002, of course, because we had just witnessed the tragedy of 9/11,” the 2012 Republican presidential candidate said on “Fox News Sunday.” “People wondered if our games would be safe.”

Napolitano echoed the unfortunate historic connection between the Olympics and safety concerns.

“Security has always been an issue with the games, probably at least going back to Munich, so the questions are the logical ones: Have appropriate preparations been made? Do we have good liaisons between the United States and the International Olympic Committee and with the host nation?”

Romney said the intelligence work begins long before athletes and spectators arrive in the host city.

“In the case of a nation like Russia, they have the resources to do their very best to protect the people from that kind of an attack,” Romney said. “It’s really the intelligence work that goes into the Olympics the months and years before the games to make sure that you’ve identified people who might represent a threat.”

The games have also raised criticism of Russia’s handling of human rights in light of the country’s anti-gay laws, and Napolitano emphasized that the U.S. delegation signals America’s opposition.

“What we would like to do is demonstrate that the United States is a very free and open and tolerant society,” she stated, while downplaying the political controversy. “There have always been politics surrounding the games, particularly in the weeks in the immediate lead-up.”

Both Romney and Napolitano said that the main focus should remain on the athletes.

“After the games, everybody talks about the actual performances, which is actually the point,” Napolitano said.

“I’m confident that the games will be successful because the athletes are the heart of the game,” Romney said.

Filed under: Janet Napolitano • Mitt Romney • Olympics
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    Neapolitano I can understand.
    The twit not so much. He used taxpayer money to "save" the Olympics in UT. 'Nuff said about him. Really, enough!!!

    January 5, 2014 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  2. Gurgyl

    It is time to tighten our security, restrict visas, nab overstayers, visa violators etc. Tighten immigration too.

    January 5, 2014 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  3. Tampa Tim

    Shouldn't Mittens just keep his mouth shut? He manages to make people unnecessarily angry with his weighing in on things he is clueless about.

    January 5, 2014 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  4. ladies first

    don't be so sure of yourselves, it's ugly.

    January 5, 2014 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  5. pbcalif

    What does Romney have to do with the Olympics? Ms. Napolitano has a job, he doesn't.

    January 5, 2014 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  6. Name Uche Agonsi

    I prefer Soccer World Cup to Olympics, just the way I prefer Napolitano to Romney.

    January 5, 2014 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  7. ED1

    I think we should stay at home no way they can protect our people this is death just waiting to happen.

    January 5, 2014 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  8. S. B. Stein

    All I can say is that I hope that this isn't Muinch all over again. If I were an athlete, I would have grave security concerns.

    January 5, 2014 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |