Jan 8, 2014 12:23 AM by Rebecca Taylor
TUCSON - A Tucson family, long time fans of the Olympic games are heading to Sochi. In fact, their Olympic attendance dates back to 1964!
They say security hurdles this go round are like nothing they've experienced before. Seven members of the Brandt family are heading to Sochi, spanning the ages of 4 to 74. Their accommodations? A cruise ship docked at the Olympic village.
Chuck and Judi Brandt are full of Olympic spirit. "I've been to 16 Olympics, so this will be number 17," says Chuck.
Getting to the games has taken over a year and half of preparation. To start, finding housing. Instead of a pricey hotel they'll float.
Judi says, "They're bringing seven cruise ships into Adler and Sochi, right there at the dock. It was $100 a night per person."
Next in the process, obtaining a 'spectator pass', something the Brandt's say is brand new to Olympic security.
"We've received the pass, but they said when we get to Russia we have to go and have it validated," says Chuck.
Judi adds, "We have to wear these, on the outsides of our jackets everywhere we go."
On top of that, obtaining an Olympic visa at $250 a pop, per person, another first. "One of the questions on there, was have you served in the Military? I was in the Marine Corps. and was in Vietnam. And one of the other questions is, do you have expertise in explosives, or nuclear matters," Chuck said.
Judi adds, "But you had to have validation of where you were staying, a Visa support letter from the cruise ship, and the dates you'd be there. So they know when you're coming, when you're flying out, where you're staying, so it's kind of a real a real secure feeling."
Although tighter security brings peace of mind, it might throw a wrench in their teddy bear toss. It's unknown if it will be allowed. In figure skating, it's a tradition to toss them on the ice, rewarding a good performance.
Judi says, "I'm not sure how many people are willing to give up luggage for stuffed animals, but we are."
Attached to those bears will be buttons representing Tucson, Arizona.
Digging deeper into Sochi security: more than 30,000 police and troops will be on duty during the Olympics. Also six missile defense systems will guard the Sochi skies during the games.
Last November, Russia passed a decree to collect logs of communication data, so all phones and computers will be tapped with information going to the Russian Secret Service.