Terrorism a risk at Olympics: U.S.

The U.S. government is cautioning Americans coming here for the 2010 Winter Olympics that the Games could be magnet for terrorists.

The State Department travel advisory for the Vancouver Olympics outlines routine cross-border issues for Americans coming north – such as not bringing guns due to Canada’s tighter firearm laws – but also includes an Olympic security assessment.

While there have been “no specific, credible terrorist threats to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games,” it says, international terrorist groups remain a threat at major public events.

“Al-Qaida’s demonstrated capability to carry out sophisticated attacks against sizable structures – such as ships, large office buildings, embassies and hotels – makes it one of the greatest potential threats to the Olympics.”

Extremists not directly controlled by al-Qaida could also strike, it notes, as happened in the 2004 Madrid train bombings and London transit system bombings in 2005.

U.S. visitors are also advised not to get caught up in local protests that could seek to disrupt the Olympics.

“Even peaceful events can turn violent,” the U.S. advisory notes.

Olympic security is estimated to cost $900 million.

An estimated 7,000 police officers, 5,000 private security guards as well as Canadian Forces personnel will be deployed.