Jeff has an opportunity to attend the World Cup in Russia but is worried that it might not be a good time to travel there.
My cousin is going to the World Cup in Russia in July and his friend has chickened out, so he’s asked me if I want to go. I’m a mad football fan and I’d really like to go. I have the money and the time, but is it safe to go there?
A. This is a tough one because I’d always go by what the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) website says, and at the moment, it’s not good news.
Any country that’s been given the whole ‘high degree of caution’ rating should not be taken lightly. So please don’t take anything I say as advice, but rather, opinion.
DFAT’s website, SmartTraveller, updated its travel advice on 1 April 2018 due to political tension between western nations and Russia after the attempted assassination of former spy Sergei Skripal in the UK.
Russia denies any involvement in the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter, but the west responded by expelling Russian diplomats and “undeclared intelligence agents”. This led to a diplomatic row that has, unfortunately, also led to a rise in anti-western sentiment and the following advice from the Australian Government:
“Due to heightened political tensions, you should be aware of the possibility of anti-Western sentiment or harassment. While the Australian Government is not aware of any increased difficulties for Australians travelling in Russia at this time, you should follow the security and political situation closely and keep up to date with this travel advice. Remain vigilant, avoid any protests or demonstrations and avoid commenting publicly on political developments. The level of our advice has not changed. Exercise a high degree of caution in Russia. Higher levels apply in some parts of the country.”
Suffice to say, Jeff, if you really don’t have to go, you should probably heed Deputy Prime minister Michael McCormack’s advice to think three times about travelling to Russia.
That said, if you really love football and you’re willing to take the risk, you may well be safe to travel to Russia. Again, this is just opinion, not advice. Follow SmartTraveller’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Bulletin for updates on the safety situation in Russia, take the necessary steps to stay safe, and you could have a great time.
Hope that helps!
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Would you travel to Russia right now?