An Olympic boycott isn’t likely to happen, the White House said on Wednesday in response to sentiments that the US should back out of the Sochi Games if Russia gives asylum to Edward Snowden.
That idea was floated by Senator Lindsey Graham, who said a US boycott of the Olympics would send a strong message to Russia. But White House Spokesman Jay Carney seemed put off by the idea.
“Our view is that we’re continuing to work with the Russian government and other nations on this matter, and we hope to see Mr. Snowden return to the United States,” Carney said.
But Carney would not rule out completely the idea of an Olympic boycott, saying only that the games are “a long way off.” He did say the idea was never really on the table.
“I think speculation about, you know, what might happen if it’s not resolved is certainly not helpful,” Carney said.
Graham said the Olympic boycott would be used as a way to show Russians that the US isn’t messing around when it comes to Snowden.
“I would just send the Russians the most unequivocal signal I could send them… It might help… What I’m trying to do is let the Russians know enough is enough. How much more are we going to let them get away with before we make it real to them?”
It isn’t just the White House throwing cold water on the idea of an Olympic boycott. House Speaker John Boehner said though Graham is a good friend, he’s “dead wrong” about using the Winter Games to send a message to the Russians.
“Why would we want to punish U.S. athletes who have been training for three years to compete in the Olympics over a traitor who can’t find a place to call home?” Boehner said.
The US already tried one Olympic boycott unsuccessfully, said US Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky. He noted that the boycott of the 1980 games during the Cold War didn’t help political problems at all, just hurt hundreds of American athletes.