President Barack Obama opposes a boycott of the 2014 Olympics in Russia, though he said he is “looking forward to” seeing “some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze.” He added, “if Russia doesn’t have gay or lesbian athletes, then that would probably make their team weaker.”
Obama also answered questions about the frosty relationship with Russia at a presidential news conference Friday.
“I know that one question that’s been raised is, how do we approach the Olympics?” Obama told reporters. “I want to just make very clear right now, I do not think it’s appropriate to boycott the Olympics.”
Beyond Russia’s anti-gay laws, the U.S. and Russian governments have clashed recently over granting NSA leaker Edward Snowden refuge in Russian for one year. Because of various issues, Obama cancelled a scheduled bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“We’ve got a bunch of Americans out there who are training hard, who are doing everything they can to succeed,” Obama said, making it clear he would not repeat the action of President Jimmy Carter who boycotted the 1980 Olympics in the Soviet Union.
“Nobody’s more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and lesbian legislation that you’ve been seeing in Russia, but as I said just this week, I’ve spoken out against that not just with respect to Russia, but a number of other countries where we continue to do work with them, but we have a strong disagreement on this issue,” Obama said.
“And 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 I think would go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we’re seeing there and if Russia doesn’t have gay or lesbian athletes, then that would probably make their team weaker,” he concluded.