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(SOCHI, RUSSIA - JANUARY 7: Spectators watch the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Olympics at Fisht Olympic Stadium Friday February 7, 2014. (Photo by Chris Detrick/The Salt Lake Tribune) )
Olympics: A calm start is just what Sochi needed
Olympics » But so far, foreign tourists seem to be staying away
First Published Feb 08 2014 11:37 am • Last Updated Feb 25 2014 04:47 pm

Sochi, Russia • The townspeople of Sochi swarmed the waterfront Friday night in a proud but subdued celebration to the start of the Winter Olympics.

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Thousands marched into a congested space by the South Pier with smiles and baby strollers despite serious concerns of terrorism that have weighed on the Sochi Games since the end of December when a bomber killed at least 15 in a Volgograd train station.

"Everybody should come out," said Lika Basmanova, a Moscow translator.

She dismissed issues of terrorism even with a lack of a major police presence around the city, saying "People are here because they think security is so strong."

Sochi native Natalia Litvinenko, 19, also wasn’t afraid to hang out with two friends on a park bench in the tranquil city center about 15 minutes from the waterfront. Using a smartphone to translate between English and Russian, the medical student said no one she knows worries about the possibility of an attack. Instead, she talked about the joy of having the Olympics come to her hometown.

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"We have waited for this for a long time," Litvinenko said.

So did a group of 100 Americans who discovered two days before the Opening Ceremony that they no longer had the rooms they had reserved on cruise ships.

Working with San Diego’s Ludus Tours, some had paid for the rooms more than a year ago.

It was another example of organizational problems that have been reported leading to Opening Ceremony.

Ludus owner Adam Dailey said he works with a low profit margin to help families of Olympians get to major international sporting events. The former distance runner serves USA Luge, USA Curling and a handful of other national governing bodies who want to help athletes’ parents. By Friday night, almost all of Dailey’s clients had been relocated — many to the newly constructed media housing next to Olympic Park.

They congregated at a cafe to eat platters of grilled meats and vegetables and celebrate getting a bed.

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