WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) – During a press conference held Friday, President Barack Obama said that he did not think people should boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in light of Russian officials’ pledges to enforce anti-gay laws during the Games.
“We have American athletes that are training hard and doing everything they can to succeed,” he said. “One of the things I’m really looking forward to is maybe some gay or lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze.”
The law, signed by President Vladimir Putin in June, bans “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” and imposes fines on those holding gay pride rallies. It has caused a major international outcry and spawned calls for protests ahead of the Feb. 7-23 Olympics in the Black Sea resort.
Russia has said it will enforce its law when it hosts the 2014 Winter Olympics. Asked whether the law in question would impact the games, Obama previously said he believes Putin and Russia have “a big stake in making sure the Olympics work.”
He maintained his position on the laws during his comments to the press.
“Nobody’s more offended than me by some of the anti-gay legislation that you’ve been seeing in Russia,” he told reporters.
Obama also made comments regarding the Russian Olympic teams and their membership.
He added, “[I]f Russia doesn’t have any gay or lesbian athletes then that’ll probably make their team weaker.”
IOC President Jacques Rogge said Friday the Russian government provided written re-assurances about the law on Thursday, but that some elements are still too unclear to pass judgment.
“We are waiting for the clarifications before having the final judgment on these reassurances,” Rogge said, a day before the start of the world track and field championships in Moscow.
The press conference, his first full one since April, focused heavily on relations between Russia and the United States, and between Obama and Russian President Vladamir Putin.
Obama has previously criticized a new Russian law cracking down on gay rights activism, saying he has “no patience for countries that try to treat gays and lesbians and transgendered persons in ways that intimidate them or are harmful to them.”
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