Poll: 44 Percent Of Americans Believe Russia Hosting Winter Games Is Bad Idea

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The Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security said Sunday that there is a “high degree of probability” of an explosion during the Sochi Olympic games.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

The Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security said Sunday that there is a “high degree of probability” of an explosion during the Sochi Olympic games. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) – A new poll shows that Americans believe the decision to allow Russia to host the 2014 Winter Olympics was a bad one.

The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press indicated that 44 percent of Americans felt it was a poor decision, while 32 percent said it was a good idea. Almost a quarter of Americans said they weren’t sure whether or not the Olympics should have been held in Sochi, Russia.

Numerous concerns plagued those who felt negatively about the games taking place there.

“Concerns about terrorism and safety are foremost among those who think it was a bad decision to hold the Olympics in Russia,” a release on the poll’s findings noted. “In an open-ended question, 62 percent of those who say it was a bad decision to hold the Winter Olympics in Russia mention terrorism or general security in Sochi as a reason they feel this way.”

The release continued, “Far fewer (5 percent) mention the Russian government or President Vladimir Putin as reasons why it was a bad decision to hold the games there, while 4 percent say Russia’s treatment of gays and lesbians make the country a bad choice to host the games.”

Though it was once of the smaller concerns among those who disapproved of the Winter Olympics’ placement this year, activists have been vocal about Russia’s anti-LGBT laws and stance.

Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, two members of the Russian protest punk band Pussy Riot, made their first public appearance in the United States Tuesday after arriving to take part in Amnesty International’s “Bringing Human Rights Home” concert on Wednesday in Brooklyn, where they will be introduced by Madonna.

The women were released in December after nearly two years in prison following a conviction for hooliganism when they staged a protest in a Russian church, wearing balaclavas and screaming lyrics.

They have been critical of Putin and political conditions in their homeland, and blasted their release as an attempt to quiet criticism of human rights issues in Russia before the games in Sochi.

Alekhina, speaking Russian as Tolokonnikova’s husband translated into English, said Americans, including President Barack Obama, should look past the buildings erected for the games.

“These objects have no relation to Russia, they are foreign objects in Russia,” she said. “The only thing which connects these objects to the country is taxpayer money which has been stolen and which has been used to build these Olympic objects.”

Speaking through her husband, Tolokonnikova said that Obama should “not be afraid to publicly say your thoughts about what you feel is happening in Russia once you are there, during your next visit.”

The women said their goal is to work toward bringing more transparency to Russian politics and the Russian prison system.

Pew’s poll was conducted between Jan. 30 and Feb. 2, and involved the participation of 1,003 randomly selected American adults.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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