The United States Olympic Committee, saying the Games "bring people together," was pleased to hear that President Barack Obama said there should be no boycott of the 2014 Sochi Games despite differences with the host nation.
U.S. disputes with Russia include the granting of temporary asylum to Edward Snowden (who leaked national security documents), recent anti-gay legislation and support for Syria's president in a bloody civil war.
“I do not think it's appropriate to boycott the Olympics,” Obama told reporters during a news conference at the White House on Friday. “We've got a bunch of Americans out there who are training hard, who are doing everything they can to succeed.”
The USOC issued a statement from Scott Blackmun, chief executive, in support of Obama's comments:
“We fully support the comments today from President Obama rejecting calls to boycott the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Russia. They unite the world and break down barriers. The Games demonstrate how it is possible to compete fiercely but respectfully. As the president suggested, the diverse group of athletes representing our nation next winter makes us a stronger and a better Team USA.”
Obama took a couple of shots at Russia.“One of the things I'm really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which would, I think, go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we're seeing there,” the president said.
“And if Russia doesn't have gay or lesbian athletes, then, it'll probably make their team weaker.”