4 Feb 2014

Sochi 'safest place in Russia' - Wardell

11:00 am on 4 February 2014

New Zealand's Winter Olympians have all arrived in Sochi and are beginning their final preparations for the games, which start on Friday.

NZ speedskater Shane Dobbin.

NZ speedskater Shane Dobbin. Photo: AFP

Fifteen athletes are representing New Zealand in Russia, and today those competing in the skiing and snowboarding events had their first training run on the Sochi slopes.

Security fears are high in the country, with two deadly bomb blasts occurring in the city of Volgograd in December, and a school shooting in Moscow last night.

But New Zealand Chef de Mission Peter Wardell said the athletes did not have any security concerns.

"That's something which we've working at really closely with the New Zealand government and the police contingent that we have with us here," Mr Wardell told Morning Report.

"The Russians are doing a really good job of it. I've been here for just on two weeks now and we've certainly seen a big ramp up in their presence and in the level of security around it. It's probably the safest place in Russia at the moment."

There was a floodlit 1m-high fence around the perimeter of the athletes' village, and similar boundaries around training areas. However, it was not oppressive, he said.

"The security guards have learned to smile and it's going really well."

The New Zealand athletes were among the first to arrive and had found their quarters to be good-quality apartment-type accommodation.

The food also got the thumbs up, with lots of fresh produce and plenty of options.