Janesville native Tucker Fredricks worried about Olympic security
JANESVILLE — Janesville's Tucker Fredricks is heading to Sochi, Russia, to compete in the Winter Olympics in February, but he'll be going without the company of his wife or parents.
Security concerns have prompted Fredricks to ask his family to stay away so he can better prepare for the games, his father, Dan, said.
“Tucker said he doesn't want to worry about us or about security,” Dan said.
The 2002 Craig High graduate will be competing in his third and last Olympics after finishing 24th in the 500-meter speed skating event at the 2006 Torino, Italy, games and 12th in the 2010 Vancouver, Canada, games.
His parents father and mother, Shawn, attended both prior games. They and his wife, former Japanese speed skater Erika Seo, don't want to take Tucker off his game, Dan said.
“We don't want to be a distraction,” Dan said. “The Olympics are all about him, not about us. He needs to concentrate, and if us being there is going to affect him, then we won't go.”
An Islamic militant group in Russia's North Caucasus claimed responsibility Sunday for twin suicide bombings in the southern city of Volgograd in December and posted a video threatening to strike the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the Associated Press reported.
In the video, two Russian-speaking men warned President Vladimir Putin that “If you hold these Olympics, we will give you a present for the innocent Muslim blood being spilled all around the world: In Afghanistan, in Somalia, in Syria.” They added that “for the tourists who come, there will be a present, too,” according to the Associated Press report.
The U.S. State Department is advising any Americans traveling to the games to “remain alert regarding their personal security at all times.”
“I shouldn't say that I'm not worried about anything,” Dan said. “I'm trying to stay optimistic.”
Members of Congress have expressed concerns about the safety of Americans at the Olympics in Russia and said Moscow needs to cooperate more on security, the Associated Press reported.
Tucker will again be competing in the 500-meter speed skating event Feb. 10. He finished second at the U.S. Olympic Trials, skating two runs in 69.44 seconds to earn his spot. He qualified for his first Olympics in 2006 before pre-qualifying for the 2010 games.
The Olympics run from Friday, Feb. 7, through Sunday, Feb. 23.