Skip to content

Senator Lindsey Graham says U.S. should consider boycotting Sochi Olympics over Edward Snowden

Jul 17, 2013, 9:00 AM EDT

Lindsey Graham Getty Images

U.S. senator Lindsey Graham told NBC News that the U.S. should consider boycotting the 2014 Sochi Olympics if leaker Edward Snowden is granted asylum in Russia, making a reference to Adolf Hitler and the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

“I love the Olympics, but I hate what the Russian government is doing throughout the world,” Graham, R-S.C., told NBC News on Tuesday. “If they give asylum to a person who I believe has committed treason against the United States, that’s taking it to a new level.”

Graham says that playing host of the Games gives Russia a propaganda platform to promote itself at a time when, he contends, the Russians are responsible for enabling Iran’s nuclear program, threatening Israel and supporting Bashar Assad in Syria.

“If you could go back in time, would you have allowed Adolf Hitler to host the Olympics in Germany?” Graham said. “To have the propaganda coup of inviting the world into Nazi Germany and putting on a false front?

“I’m not saying that Russia is Nazi Germany, but I am saying that the Russian government is empowering some of the most evil, hateful people in the world.”

The U.S. has participated in every Olympics in the modern era except for the one Games it boycotted — the 1980 Moscow Summer Games after Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan.

The U.S. Olympic Committee, not the U.S. government, makes the final decision regarding the possible boycott of a Games.

UPDATE: USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky offered this statement Wednesday:

“If there are any lessons to be learned from the American boycott of 1980, it is that Olympic boycotts do not work. Our boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games did not contribute to a successful resolution of the underlying conflict. It did, however, deprive hundreds of American athletes, all whom had completely dedicated themselves to representing our nation at the Olympic Games, of the opportunity of a lifetime. It also deprived millions of Americans of the opportunity to take pride in the achievements of our athletes, and in their dedication and commitment, at a time when we needed it most. While we acknowledge the seriousness of the issues at hand, we strongly oppose the notion that a boycott of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is in our country’s best interests.”

House speaker John Boehner also rejected Graham’s opinion, saying he was “dead wrong.”.

“Why would we want to punish U.S. athletes who’ve been training for three years to compete in the Olympics over a traitor who can’t find a place to call home?” Boehner told reporters.

Russian politicians responded to Graham’s statements Wednesday.

The head of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee, Aleksey Pushkov, said that Graham’s statements were “pulling us back to the distant past, the time of mutual boycotts when our two states were looking at each other through nuclear sights,” according to RT.com. “I am sure that these times are over and difficult periods in relations must not bring the nations to the worst times of the Cold War.”

1984 Olympic champion skier taken off life support

Latest Posts
  1. John Orozco’s mom on his mind as he leads P&G Championships

    Aug 22, 2014, 11:22 PM EDT

    John Orozco AP

    Orozco is looking to win his second U.S. all-around title in three years.

  2. Bond between Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles

    Aug 22, 2014, 6:47 PM EDT

    Gabby Douglas Getty Images

    Douglas and Biles became fast friends rooming together in June.

  3. U.S. coach aids Solomon Islands triathlete in Youth Olympic sportsmanship

    Aug 22, 2014, 1:40 PM EDT

    Boris Teddy

    U.S. coach noticed a bent, old bike and decided something had to be done.

  4. U.S. Youth Olympic basketball team crushing opponents

    Aug 22, 2014, 11:54 AM EDT

    Katie Lou Samuelson Getty Images

    U.S. women undefeated in six games so far.

  5. U.S. flag bearer Kendall Yount wins Youth Olympic gold

    Aug 21, 2014, 6:08 PM EDT

    Kendall Yount Getty Images

    A U.S. Summer Olympic Opening Ceremony flag bearer hasn’t won individual Olympic gold since 1960.

  6. Sam Mikulak leads one of most decorated P&G Championships fields ever

    Aug 21, 2014, 5:01 PM EDT

    Sam Mikulak AP

    Four past U.S. all-around champions are in the field in Pittsburgh.

  7. Allyson Felix beats Tori Bowie in Stockholm

    Aug 21, 2014, 4:01 PM EDT

    Allyson Felix Getty Images

    Also, a rare defeat for Olympic pole vault champion.

  8. Gabby Douglas plans on fall training camp, 2015 Secret Classic

    Aug 21, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT

    Gabby Douglas Getty Images

    Olympic all-around champion says she’ll stay in Columbus through 2016 Olympics.

  9. Katie Ledecky wins 2 Pan Pacs titles; Missy Franklin places 3rd

    Aug 21, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT

    Katie Ledecky AP

    Ledecky nearly broke another world record.

  10. Frenchman wins Youth Olympics dunk contest gold medal

    Aug 21, 2014, 9:53 AM EDT

    Basketball

    NBA legends channeled; Olympic silver medalist on judging panel.

  11. Youth Olympics shooter oversleeps, misses chance at medal

    Aug 21, 2014, 7:49 AM EDT

    Youth Olympics Pistol Getty Images

    Ukrainian’s error costs Moldovan teammate a shot at the podium.

  12. Missy Franklin overcomes back injury to qualify for Pan Pacs final

    Aug 20, 2014, 11:59 PM EDT

    Missy Franklin Getty Images

    U.S. star first suffered back spasms at Tuesday practice.

  13. Simone Biles a tall favorite at P&G Championships; women’s preview

    Aug 20, 2014, 5:44 PM EDT

    Simone Biles Getty Images

    Defending champion feels no added pressure despite seeing her face all around Pittsburgh.

  14. Jennie Finch, Lisa Fernandez weigh in on Mo’ne Davis

    Aug 20, 2014, 3:56 PM EDT

    Jennie Finch Getty Images

    Would Davis excel in softball if she tried it?

Featured video

Yogging a hit at Youth Olympic Games