SOCHI, Russia – So far, so good.
Despite embarrassing construction lapses leading up to the Opening Ceremony, the Winter Games have been mostly calm and orderly to this point, with no terrorist attacks and hardly any sign of disturbance anywhere.
"We've all been pleasantly surprised," said Mark Galeotti, a professor of global affairs at New York University who is based in Russia during the Olympics. "It hasn't been as heavy-handed as anticipated."
It is only a few days into the fortnight, so it is way too soon to deem Russia's $2 billion security effort a success. However, the plan has worked without being intrusive. Security lines have not been as long as in past Olympics. Also, bus and train routes between the coastal and mountain venues have run cleanly.
"So far the security is doing what it's meant to do," Galeotti said. "You can afford to have a more relaxed atmosphere once you're inside the zone."
Many security experts still consider acts of terrorism a when-not-if scenario. That fear overshadowed talk of the competition in the weeks leading up to the Games.
"I've never seen a greater threat in my lifetime," Rep. Mike McCaul said on Fox News Sunday.
McCaul, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, said there is a "high degree of probability that something will detonate, something will go off." Galeotti hardly dismissed that prediction but credited the Russians for their preparation.
"If anything does manage to get through, it is going to be small-scale – a suitcase or a vest," he said. "Anything larger is what the Russians are fully prepared for. It's going to be a person who looks normal and slips through – if it happens at all."
The signs of security are subtler here than originally expected. The much-discussed "Ring of Steel" doesn't feel like a prison. Unmarked white blimps hover over Olympic Park and a battleship looms on the Black Sea in the distance, but runners fill the boardwalk every morning while local fishermen set up their lines. The Games feel quiet because of the lack of big crowds, but it's not eerie.
Of course, that could all change in an instant. Russia's reputation rides on the safety of these Olympics, and the Sochi Games won't be deemed safe until they are over.
"Security always goes fine," Galeotti said, "until it goes wrong."