Not a month after two separate suicide bombings – a day apart – targeted mass transportation in the Russian city of Volgograd, killing 34 people overall, an online terrorist threat emerged in Russia on Sunday.
The successive blasts occurred just 40 days before the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, raising fears of further attacks since Sochi is about 430 miles (690 km) southwest of Volgograd.
However, terrorism isn’t the only factor driving spectators away.
Although Vladimir Putin agreed to compromise his country’s ban on homosexuality for the prestigious sports event, the Russian President isn’t doing much to convince gay athletes that they would be welcome in the country.
OnFriday, Putin reiterated that gay athletes and visitors to the Winter Olympics would not face discrimination. But he called on visitors to respect Russia's culture and traditions and "leave children in peace".
"We do not ban anyone or anything. We don't detain people on the street. We don't hold anyone responsible for those relations, unlike a lot of other countries in the world. That's why you can feel free, relaxed, but leave children in peace, please."
These comments would certainly not sit well with the international gay rights campaigners and organizations who – last year – demanded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) relocate the Winter Olympics to Vancouver, Canada in the wake of draconian anti-gay propaganda.
On the other hand, insurgency entrenched in the Muslim-dominated region of North Caucasus is causing spectators to stay away from Russia. A steep decline in bookings has been observed, according to several news reports.
One travel agent told CBS News while she booked 250 clients for the Vancouver Winter Olympics and 350 for Beijing; she has fewer than 50 going to Sochi.
Militants seek to destabilize the Russian government whom they hold responsible for attacking Chechnya. In the video released by terrorist organization Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus, two men threaten to kill those who would attend the Winter Games in retaliation to the killing of Muslims around the world.
The video (posted below) was reportedly shot six months ago but just released by the media arm of the terrorist group.
The XXII Olympic Winter Games 2014 begin on Friday, February 7 and end on Sunday, February 23.