Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith is fulfilling a lifelong dream of representing Canada in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia next month.
But despite this rare opportunity, his wife Brigitte and his two small children will be staying in North America and watching the games on television because of growing safety concerns and terror threats in Sochi.
“They’re not gonna go, it’s not worth it. It’s not worth myself thinking about ‘is she OK when I’m not with her,'” Smith told Fox Sports Arizona’s Todd Walsh and other gathered media in Calgary Wednesday. “It’s unfortunate, but it’s the way it is.”
The United States, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia have received emails and handwritten letters that threaten athletes will be targeted at the upcoming Olympics. Members of the International Olympic Committee and Russian organizers have downplayed the threats and don’t believe they are credible.
The 31-year-old is irked that this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is being tainted and possibly put at risk by these threats.
“The Olympics are supposed to be an exciting time and one that so many athletes train so hard for to get maybe only one opportunity to go and perform at their best,” he said. “When there’s that extra baggage of security concerns and other things like that, I think it’s obviously frustrating for all athletes.
“But not just the athletes, but for people who want to go and support the Olympics and support their family members that are having concerns and not able to attend because of that, so there’s obviously disappointment involved too.”
Smith is one of three goaltenders on the Team Canada roster, joining Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo and Montreal’s Carey Price.
Canada’s opening game in the 2014 Olympics will be February 13 against Norway. The contest is scheduled to begin at 5:30 AM Arizona time.
— Todd Walsh (@ToddWalsh) January 22, 2014