Jul 17, 2013, 9:00 AM EDT
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.
“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.”
Jul 27, 2014, 6:46 PM EDT
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Jul 27, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
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Jul 27, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT
Kerri Walsh Jennings can hit another career milestone.
Jul 26, 2014, 5:24 PM EDT
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Jul 26, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
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Jul 26, 2014, 10:17 AM EDT
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Jul 26, 2014, 9:02 AM EDT
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Jul 25, 2014, 4:07 PM EDT
USOC met with representatives from four finalist cities this week.
Jul 25, 2014, 3:47 PM EDT
Bahrain runner listed with 1996 birthday may have been born in 1990.
Jul 25, 2014, 2:24 PM EDT
A step forward as skateboarding seeks Olympic inclusion.
Jul 25, 2014, 11:36 AM EDT
Brit can make Olympic history on the track in 2016.
Jul 25, 2014, 10:07 AM EDT
Cain emerged from being boxed in to beat Kenyans.
Jul 24, 2014, 4:57 PM EDT
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Jul 24, 2014, 11:48 AM EDT
Moment of silence also held.
Jul 24, 2014, 11:25 AM EDT
Lingering illness keeps Olympic, World champion from competing.
Jul 24, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT
Australian field hockey player’s photo goes viral.
Jul 23, 2014, 4:12 PM EDT
Hopes to create a “robotic revolution.”
Jul 23, 2014, 1:47 PM EDT
Brazil has never won more than 17 medals at an Olympics.
Jul 23, 2014, 12:25 PM EDT
Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington D.C. in the running.
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