President Obama today made clear that he rejects growing calls for the U.S. to boycott the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi over Russia’s new anti-gay law.
“I want to just make very clear right now: I do not think it’s appropriate to boycott the Olympics,” the president told reporters at a White House news conference.
“We’ve got a bunch of Americans out there who are training hard, who are doing everything they can to succeed,” he said. “Nobody’s more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and -lesbian legislation that you’ve been seeing in Russia.”
Russia has banned any “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” around minors, which means homosexual public displays of affection, including holding hands or displaying symbols like a rainbow flag, are now banned. Violators face steep fines and jail time. Foreigners face similar penalties, plus deportation.
“One of the things I’m really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which I think would go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we’re seeing there,” Obama said. “And if Russia doesn’t have gay or lesbian athletes, then that would probably make their team weaker.”
ABC News’ Kirit Radia contributed to this report.