South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (above, left) made some comments recently to The Hill about the U.S. boycotting the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia to “send the Russians the most unequivocal signal” that Russia must not grant asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
“It might help, because what they’re doing is outrageous. … At the end of the day, if they grant this guy asylum it’s a breach of the rule of law as we know it and is a slap in the face to the United States,” adds Graham.
But his Capitol Hill colleague, House Speaker John Boehner (above, right), says Graham is “dead wrong” about what he is suggesting.
“I love Sen. Graham. We’ve been close friends for 20 years. But I think he’s dead wrong. Why would we want to punish U.S. athletes who have been training for three years to compete in the Olympics over a traitor who can’t find a place to call home?” says Boehner in a press conference.
Republican Sen. John McCain adds, “There’s many things we can do, but I think the experience of canceling the Olympics the last time around wasn’t very good.”
The White House, however, is not as emphatic in saying an Olympic boycott is the wrong idea.
In a press conference, White House press secretary Jay Carney side-stepped the issue in the face of several questions.
“I’m not going to engage in
speculation about that, and the Olympics are a long way off. We believe that we have a strong case and we have made that case
to Russia. We don’t want this matter to do harm to our
bilateral relations. We have a very important and broad relationship
with Russia that encompasses a great many areas of cooperation, as well
as some areas of disagreement.”
Finally, when pressed as to whether the Olympic boycott is a bad idea, Carney says, “Yeah. But it’s not one that is an issue right now, because we’re engaged with
the Russians and other governments in helping bring about a positive
resolution to this matter.”
Boycotting an Olympic Games would not be unprecedented, especially between the United States and Russia. The U.S. boycotted the 1980 Moscow Games and Russia boycotted the 1984 Los Angeles Games.