Russia cools on Sochi Spectator Pass plan
Moscow, March 30 (IANS): The Russian government tiptoed away from the idea of forcing visitors to the Sochi Winter Olympics to register their personal details with the authorities.
Sochi officials had previously said spectators might have to hand over their passport details and, potentially, their banking information in order to receive a special pass to Olympic events and museums and theatres around the Black Sea resort.
But in scaled-back rhetoric, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, who leads government oversight of the Sochi Games, said Friday that organisers now plan to test the “Spectator Pass” at upcoming international competitions, such as the IIHF Ice Hockey U-18 World Championship next month.
“A final decision will be made as a result of this trial. We don’t want to create extra problems for fans,” he said.
It is unclear if the pass would apply to foreigners. If so, it would likely pose another bureaucratic headache for international fans already required to obtain Russian visas before entering the country.
The scheme envisions spectators logging their details in a national database linked to Russia’s controversial new state ID card programme, which was implemented for Russians earlier this year.