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Sochi travel alert: GWU grad students prep for upcoming trip

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) - More than two dozen George Washington University business students are packing up for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. They’re heading to Sochi for the Winter Games, and they’re not letting a travel alert foil their fun.

"I would not be bringing 27 students and myself over to an area where I thought there was great risk," said Lisa Delpy Neirotti, associate professor and GWSB’s director of sport management programs.

This will be Neirotti’s 17th consecutive Olympics. She's taking one of her classes with her to see firsthand the managing and marketing of the world's largest sporting event.

“The educational opportunity and my excitement to attend the games far outweighs any issues or concerns I may have," said MBA student Cecily Martin.

The U.S. State Department has warned athletes and spectators in Sochi to stay alert.

"I can't say that it didn't make my stomach jump a little bit when your own country is issuing a warning," admitted Global MBA student Amy Watson. She says her family and friends worry about the rash of violence in Russia.

A suicide bomber killed seven people aboard a bus in October in Volgograd. The city is a key transportation hub about 400 miles from Sochi. And dozens more lost their lives in twin terror bombings last month.

This past week, six dead bodies were found in booby-trapped cars in nearby Stavropol.

“The safest place to be is inside an Olympic venue,” said Professor Neirotti. “Once you step out of the Olympic security perimeter then it's just like walking out in the streets of Washington, D.C..” She says you have to be careful and aware of your surroundings.

While Neirotti and her students vow they’ll watch their backs, they also feel good knowing Russia is launching the largest security operation in Olympic history.

“They have a huge interest in putting it on well and making sure it's secure so I actually think they're going to take a lot of additional security precautions," said GWU MPM student, Kent Nye.

He and his classmates also have an emergency plan in place. They know who to call in case of trouble and they have a back-up spot to meet in case they can't meet at their hotel.

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