The U.S. Olympic Committee has rejected calls for a U.S. boycott of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, a suggestion made by U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham citing Russia’s involvement in the case of Edward Snowden. Graham had suggested the U.S. consider boycotting the Games until Snowden, the National Security Agency leaker who has requested temporary asylum in Russia, is returned to the United States. The U.S. last boycotted and Olympic Games in 1980, when the summer event was held in Moscow.
In a statement, USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said, “If there are any lessons to be learned from the American boycott of 1980, it is that Olympic boycotts do not work. 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. It also deprived millions of Americans of the opportunity to take pride in the achievements of our athletes, and in their dedication and commitment, at a time when we needed it most. While we acknowledge the seriousness of the issues at hand, we strongly oppose the notion that a boycott of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is in our country’s best interests.”