Soccer fans beware: new travel warnings are asking travellers to reconsider going to Russia for the FIFA World Cup as political tensions rise.
The Australian government has updated its latest travel advice for fans planning to cheer on the Socceroos, warning them of “anti-Western sentiment”.
“Due to heightened political tensions, you should be aware of the possibility of anti-Western sentiment or harassment,” the advice says.
“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.”
This updated warning comes after an attempted assassination of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury.
Australia is acting in solidarity with the UK as London blames Moscow for the attack despite their denial of any involvement.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has also advised Australians to reconsider travel plans.
“If you don’t need to travel to Russia at the moment then think twice, think three times, about doing it,” he told the ABC.
The UK has been seeking to punish Russia and announced that the royal family will shun the World Cup.
According to The Telegraph, no senior member of the royal family will attend this year’s World Cup, the first time in decades and the first time in at least 16 years that neither Prince has attended.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has likened Russia’s World Cup to Nazi Germany’s Olympic Games in 1936.
In an interview with a Russian TV channel, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “It’s my impression that all they [the West] care about is taking the World Cup out of Russia.”
“They will use any means. Their minds are only on the football and God forbid it should touch a Russian football field.”
Foreign Minister Bishop has ruled out the possibility of a formal boycott at the World Cup on Twitter last week.
However, she has suggested that the tournament could provide a platform to exert more diplomatic pressure on Russia.
As per the ABC, Bishop said: “There are a whole range of further options of action that could be taken, the World Cup is one of the further actions that could be taken in relation to this matter.”
Bishop has made no clarification on these “further options”.