During a wide-ranging press conference Friday that mostly revolved around the U.S.’ continuing problems with security and transparency, President Obama took a moment to address current relations with Russia, and said that boycotting the Olympics over the country’s anti-gay laws isn’t the best avenue of protest.
Though President Obama admitted that our relationship with Russia is strained at the moment, he said that folks sympathetic to LGBT issues shouldn’t boycott the Winter Olympics in Sochi as a form of protest against the country’s strict anti-gay laws.
He said that many American athletes are training to compete in the Games next February, and that a boycott would unintentionally withdraw support for our own team.
“Nobody’s more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and lesbian legislation that we’ve been seeing in Russia,” the president said.
“One of the things I’m really looking forward to is maybe some gay or lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which would go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes we’re seeing there. And if Russia doesn’t have gay or lesbian athletes, it will probably make their team weaker.”
In any case, most of the recent tension between the U.S. and Russia is over their Vladimir Putin’s decision to grant NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden temporary asylum.
President Obama said that he has “encouraged Mr. Putin to think forward as opposed to backwards… with mixed success” and that the Snowden issue is “just one more in a number of emerging differences” between both countries.