The White House rejected calls for a U.S. boycott of the Winter Olympics in Sochi over a law passed in Russia in June that bans “homosexual propaganda.”
In July a Russian official said gay athletes and visitors attending the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics will be subject to arrest under the anti-gay ban, which outlaws public events promoting equal rights and the public display of affection by same-sex couples.
Although the administration condemned Russia infringing on the civil rights of the LGBT community, White House spokesman Jay Carney shot down any calls for a boycott.
The news might come as a surprise considering President Barack Obama told Jay Leno Tuesday on the Tonight Show, “I think they [President Vladimir Putin and Russia] understand that for most of the countries that participate in the Olympics, we wouldn't tolerate gays and lesbians being treated differently.”
Obama also cancelled a presidential summit to be held with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month, after Russia granted asylum to NSA whistleblower and fugitive Edward Snowden.
“To guess what the outcome would have been without Snowden is hard to do but as we have made clear there was not enough progress on other issues for a summit to make sense,” said Carney.
The White House is likely trying to contain the fall out from the recent tension over Snowden.
Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will still meet with their Russian counterparts on Friday.
“We have a number of issues that we are engaging with them on and we continue to discuss these issues going forward,” said Carney. “[Snowden] is not the focus, but it is not something that we are dropping in any way.”
Carney was asked to draw a parallel between calls for this Olympics boycott and the U.S.-organized boycott of the 1980 Moscow games, and he refused.
“That is a conversation that we are not having. To speak about something like that is not in anyone’s interests," he said.