We hesitate to even mention Republican senator Lindsey Graham’s comments on a potential boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, if only because a boycott is such a miniscule possibility. However, since NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly has responded to the story, we suppose we should pass it along.
Via NBC News, here’s what started all this talk:
A key U.S. senator has told NBC News that the United States should consider boycotting the upcoming Winter Games if Russian President Vladimir Putin grants leaker Edward Snowden asylum — even suggesting that Putin’s actions should raise the specter of the pre-World War II Berlin games hosted by Adolf Hitler’s regime.
“I love the Olympics, but I hate what the Russian government is doing throughout the world,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told NBC News on Tuesday. “If they give asylum to a person who I believe has committed treason against the United States, that’s taking it to a new level.”
Per SI.com, Daly says the NHL has “no specific contingency plans” for a boycott “because it is a hypothetical situation at this point. If and when we are faced with something like that as a reality, we are certainly prepared to consider and react appropriately depending on the totality of the circumstances.”
Again, the chances of an Olympic boycott stemming from the Snowden case are tiny, if not zero. In fact, House Speaker John Boehner today flat-out rejected the suggestion.
“Why would we want to punish U.S. athletes who’ve been training for three years to compete in the Olympics over a traitor who can’t find a place to call home?” Boehner told reporters at a news conference.
The United States boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, but that was over the much bigger issue of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. (Not to mention that whole capitalism-versus-communism thing they had going back then.)
Update: Here’s United States Olympic Committee spokesperson Patrick Sandusky:
“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.”
Related: Daly expects NHL schedule, Olympics announcement this week