Alaska Senator Urges Obama Not to Boycott Olympics Even Though WH Hasn't Entertained Idea
One of Alaska's senators is begging President Obama not to boycott the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, even though the suggestion came from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and has been dismissed by the White House.
“Russia has aligned themselves with Iran to keep Assad in power. And here’s my question to the Congress and the president. What does Russia have to do before we push back?” Graham said last week. “And do I want to cancel the Olympics from an American point of view? No.”
“But would I go to Moscow a year and a half from now if they were continuing to support Assad and 200,000 Syrians had been killed, the king of Jordan had been toppled because of the civil war in Syria, Iraq is falling apart, the arms that the Russians are selling Assad falls into Hezbollah’s hands to be used against Iran, they give Snowden asylum and they help the Iranians march toward a nuclear weapon. Would I accept an invitation sent by Putin? No. I don’t want to boycott the Olympics, but I want a policy that will get the Russians’ attention.”
The discussions arose from Russia's unwillingness to hand over Edward Snowden, which shows no signs of abating.
Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) was alarmed by the prospect because, well, some athletes who compete in winter sports call his snowy state home.
"Coming from a state separated from Russia by less than three miles of chilly ocean in the Bering Strait, Alaskans have a unique relationship with our neighbors to the west and are arguably more directly affected by international events affecting the two countries," Begich wrote Obama.
"Some of these Alaskan athletes and hundreds of other young Americans are training rigorously for Olympic trials later this year," he continued. "Their hard work should be rewarded through the opportunity to compete at the highest levels, not used as pawns in international incidents best resolved by professional diplomats and elected officials."
"Mr. President, I strongly support your efforts to stand up to Russia, but please do not sacrifice the dedication of America's Olympic athletes and the international mutual understanding that derive from the Olympic Games."