A top Russian political and sports official said Tuesday that President Obama's decision not to attend the 2014 Sochi Olympics will have no real effect on the competition.
"Obama can't come? Well, he hasn't been to a single Games during his time in the presidency," Alexander Zhukov was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti news service. "It doesn't reflect on the quality of the Games in any way."
In addition to Obama, the presidents of France and Germany are also expected to skip the Olympics.
Their absences add further emphasis to widespread criticism of Russia's anti-gay propaganda law, which effectively bans gay pride events and the discussion of "nontraditional sexual relations" in the presence of minors.
It is true that Obama has never attended an Olympics as president. He sent First Lady Michelle Obama to the 2012 London Games.