TODAY   |  January 23, 2014

Olympic families conflicted over safety concerns

The families of the athletes competing in the upcoming Olympic winter Games are concerned about safety, with some choosing to stay home. NBC’s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> meanwhile, the first olympic events will begin in just 14 days in sochi and mounting security threats are becoming a real growing concern for athletes, their families and spectator alike. richard engel is in sochi this morning. good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning. you can imagine this is such an agonizing decision for athletes and their families, after years of competitions and early mornings and sacrifices. in light of security concerns they have to decide whether they will come to sochi or not. after years of dedication, competition and training, american athletes and their families are facing a choice they didn't expect, whether to go to the olympics in sochi or not. snowboarder sage 's parents are making the decision.

>> this mother is going but will keep her eyes peeled.

>> i'm certainly going to keep my eyes open on my surroundings.

>> these parents are watching closely.

>> our son is going so unless they cancel the olympics, we're going to be there.

>> with islamic anti-russian militants threatening the game, what are they doing?

>> the area is connected to a train station and airport. 30 miles away up a winding road is the mountain cluster where the skiing and sledding events are spread out over slopes and valleys and this snowboarder doesn't expect he'll be venturing too far.

>> i'm going to stick to myself, roll up into a little ball, do my event and just get out of there, i think.

>> richard, as we look at that map of the venues and where they're located, give us an update. anything new on the suspected terrorists who have made their way inside the so-called ring of steel ?

>> we're not exactly sure if anyone has made it into the ring of steel . there was a concern that there are five suspected suicide bombers on the loose and that one of them, a so-called black widow , was in the sochi area, not necessarily in the olympic venue. it would be very difficult to get inside an olympic venue, as we've been here now for the last 48 hours or so. there are foot patrols, you need to wear a badge anywhere you go. to bring anything in, it has to be x-rayed and inspected. this is a lockdown area.

>> the athlete that said i'm going to roll up in a ball, do my event and get out. do you think based over what you've seen over the last couple of days that it possible for the russians to deliver a safe olympic games without crushing the feel and the spirit of those olympic games ?

>> reporter: the russians have said they are going to do that. they don't want to turn this into a prison camp , but it is going to be difficult. to come in here, you have to go through these layers of layers of security. feels like you're going through airport security and once you're inside, everything is sanitized. there aren't restaurants here, not a lot of venues, not a lot to do. i'm not sure if inside the ring it will have that free olympic spirit of other games in open area.

>> richard engel , thanks so much.