President Barack Obama attended a previously scheduled Major League Baseball exhibition game in Cuba today, despite terror attacks in Belgium that killed at least 31 people this morning.

Tuesday’s game was the first time an MLB game has been played on Cuban soil since 1999. The optics were fraught, with images of the U.S. president sitting next to Cuban President Raul Castro and doing the “wave” as the Tampa Bay Rays played the Cuban national team.

But in an interview with ESPN, Obama defended the decision to continue with the game as planned despite the international community’s focus on Brussels.

“It’s always a challenge when you have a terrorist attack anywhere in the world, particularly in this age of 24-7 news coverage, you want to be respectful and understand the gravity of the situation,” Obama said. “But the whole premise of terrorism is to try to disrupt people’s ordinary lives.”

Obama pointed to the United States’ reaction in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing as an example of how to respond to terrorist actions.

“One of my most powerful memories and one of my proudest moments as president was watching Boston respond after the marathon,” Obama said. “When [Boston Red Sox designated hitter David] Ortiz went out and … talked about Boston and how strong it was and that it was not going to be intimidated: That is the kind of resilience and the kind of strength that we have to continually show in the face of these terrorists.”

Ortiz’s famous speech at Fenway Park following the terror attack and shutdown of Boston in April 2013 illustrated that Americans won’t be bested by terrorists, Obama added.

“They cannot defeat America. They don’t produce anything, they don’t have a message that appeals to the vast majority of Muslims or the vast majority of people around the world,” he said. “What they can do is scare and make people afraid and disrupt our daily lives and divide us. And as long as we don’t allow that to happen, we’re going to be OK.”

Earlier in the day, Obama briefly addressed the Brussels explosions before continuing a press conference focusing on his administration’s diplomatic efforts in the traditionally communist country.

Follow the author of this story on Twitter and Facebook:

Other Must-Read Stories