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U.S. Olympic officials don't want to boycott Sochi Games

July 17, 2013|By David Wharton
  • Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has applied for temporary asylum in Russia.
Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has applied… (Glenn Greenwald, Laura…)

The U.S. Olympic Committee has reacted quickly -- and negatively -- to a suggestion that Americans should boycott the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, if that country grants asylum to former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) raised the idea this week.

"If there are any lessons to be learned from the American boycott of 1980, it is that Olympic boycotts do not work," USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said in a statement. "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."

There was further negative reaction from Capitol Hill, where House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) called Graham's idea "dead wrong."

Snowden, who worked in Hawaii for the NSA, is wanted on espionage charges for leaking highly sensitive classified data about the agency's surveillance of international Internet and telephone accounts. He has applied for temporary asylum in Russia.

The U.S. boycotted the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow to protest the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. The Soviets responded by refusing to participate in the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games.

"While we acknowledge the seriousness of the issues at hand," Sandusky said, "we strongly oppose the notion that a boycott of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is in our country's best interests." 


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