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.”
Apr 25, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT
The U.S.’ first opponent marks a rematch of the Sochi gold-medal game.
Apr 25, 2015, 10:33 AM EDT
Only two men have ever run faster this early in the season.
Apr 25, 2015, 9:08 AM EDT
ISAF official says demands will be made.
Apr 25, 2015, 8:53 AM EDT
Jenner explained how he felt different while winning the decathlon at the Montreal 1976 Olympics.
Apr 24, 2015, 3:51 PM EDT
Several Olympic champions are in the fields at the two meets.
Apr 24, 2015, 3:50 PM EDT
Phelps has followed Bowman to an NCAA stop before.
Apr 24, 2015, 12:24 PM EDT
Biles is in the middle of a four-month break from competition.
Apr 24, 2015, 11:09 AM EDT
Sweeney and Team USA begin World Championship play Sunday.
Apr 24, 2015, 10:26 AM EDT
NBC’s figure skating analysts will be visible daily during Kentucky Derby week.
Apr 24, 2015, 10:08 AM EDT
“I feel like he let me down, and he let the sport down.”
Apr 23, 2015, 4:51 PM EDT
But he also shares the sentiment of Bud Selig on MLB participation.
Apr 23, 2015, 2:25 PM EDT
Doug wasn’t allowed to bobsled while filming, but he recently took his first run.
Apr 23, 2015, 12:29 PM EDT
“It depends who you ask,” Keflezighi said of the U.S. Olympic Trials favorite.
Apr 23, 2015, 9:02 AM EDT
Two Olympic champions appear headed for a second Olympics, while a World champion seeks a first Olympic berth.
Apr 22, 2015, 3:12 PM EDT
Wylie had a “heart abnormality while exercising,” his wife said.
Apr 22, 2015, 2:40 PM EDT
Comaneci, the subject of a Katie Holmes-directed documentary, discussed current gymnastics topics.
Apr 22, 2015, 12:21 PM EDT
U.S. Olympic marathon and figure skating medalists are also in the group.
Apr 22, 2015, 11:48 AM EDT
Included are some potential U.S.-Brazil duels.
Apr 22, 2015, 9:11 AM EDT
Sweden scrapped a bid for 2022, and a joint Norway-Sweden bid has also been proposed.
Apr 21, 2015, 3:51 PM EDT
Michelle Kwan, Meryl Davis, Evan Lysacek and more Olympians tell their memorable stories.
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