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  • Barack Obama Rejects Sochi Olympic Boycott


    08/09/13

    A screenshot of Barack Obama's press conference from a live NPR blog.
    (ATR) U.S. President Barack Obama says the U.S. will not boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

    Obama says a boycott hurts Olympic athletes.

    “We’ve got a bunch of Americans that are training hard, who are doing everything they can to succeed,” he said.

    “Nobody’s more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and -lesbian legislation that we’ve been seeing in Russia.”

    The comments from the President came in response to a question at a White House press conference. Obama was asked whether the U.S. would consider other actions against Russia in the wake of the controversies over Edward Snowden and the anti-gay law recently passed by the Russian parliament. He volunteered his comments and was not asked specifically about a Sochi boycott.

    Earlier this week, Obama urged Russia not to enforce the new law so as not to discriminate against homosexual athletes who might be competing in Sochi.

    U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun applauded Obama's comments.

    "We fully support the comments today from President Obama rejecting calls to boycott the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Russia. The Games bring people together. They unite the world and break down barriers. The Games demonstrate how it is possible to compete fiercely but respectfully. They demonstrate how people with disparate views can come together and celebrate what they have in common, most notably the will to be the best you can be," said Blackmun.

    Russia officials are trying to tamp down international outrage over the law, saying that it will not be an issue in Sochi.

    IOC President Jacques Rogge said today in Moscow that the IOC was seeking clarification before making any comments about the law. The law bans propaganda that promotes or endorses “non-traditional” sexual relationships.

    President Obama ended his remarks today about the Olympics with some advice for Russia.

    “Maybe some gay or lesbian athletes will bring home the gold, silver or bronze which I think would go a long way to rejecting the kind of attitudes we’re seeing there.”

    “And if Russia doesn’t have gay or lesbian athletes, probably makes their team weaker,” he said.

    Written by Ed Hula.

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