In Pictures: Spotlight on Sochi

Athletes ramp up preparations for the controversial 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Russia in February.

Politics has overshadowed preparations to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, amid concerns about security and human rights.

The US has offered security help following two deadly suicide bombings struck Volgograd, 650 kilometres northeast of Sochi, in December.

Russia's new laws banning what Moscow's Duma calls "gay propaganda" has caused outrage around the world, as rights advocates including tennis great Martina Navratilova have accuse the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of not doing enough to defend the rights of gay athletes.

But the IOC has expressed confidence that the Sochi Games will be safe and Russian President Vladimir Putin has moved to reassure athletes that they will not be discriminated against at the event.

Organisers hope that the focus will shift to the competing athletes when the Games begin on February 7.