Figure skating: ISU chief Cinquanta confident over Sochi security

BUDAPEST - World skating chief Ottavio Cinquanta on Friday insisted that organisers were doing their utmost to ensure that heightened security in Winter Olympic host city Sochi would not take away from a spectacular showcase.

Figure skating, which will include a team event in addition to the men's, women's, pairs and ice dancing disciplines for the the first time, will take place in Sochi's 12,000-seater Iceberg Skating Palace from February 6-22.

But concerns have been raised about security in the Black Sea resort after two suicide attacks in the southern city of Volgograd last month killed 31 people.

"As far as security conditions in Sochi we do believe that the Russian authorities will do their utmost to conduct the Olympic Winter Games in the best possible conditions," the Italian president of the International Skating Union (ISU) told a press conference during the European figure skating championships currently underway in Budapest.

As for security outside Olympic venues, he added: "What can we say. We don't know when moving from site to site. Hotel security could be strong but to ask the ISU about when going between venues is not easy.

"I'm more than confident that the structure will be strong enough to support the interest and freedom of all the participants to move around the Olympic area. We are not in a position to give any guarantee regarding this fact."

The Sochi Games have already been mired in controversy concerning issues including gay rights, but 75-year-old Cinquanta, who has led the ISU since 1994, refused to be drawn on the subject.

"I personally believe that we have to leave in the capable hands of these people (Russian authorities) what they have to do. It's their responsibility, not ours, to argue and make comments and so on."

The former speed skater added: "I know that Sochi is ready. They have made strong investment and we are prepared with strong skaters in both ISU branches (figure skating and speed skating)."

Figure skating gets underway starting with the team event on February 6, one day before the opening ceremony.