Olympics boycott? Speaker Boehner rejects Sen. Graham's Sochi-for-Snowden proposal

Olympics boycott: Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is reacting to the possibility that Russia gives temporary asylum to Edward Snowden. Speaker of the House John Boehner rejects the Olympics boycott idea.

Jonathan Ernst/REUTERS
US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) speaks during a push for new bipartisan media shield legislation during a news conference at the US Capitol in Washington, July 17, 2013.

House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday soundly rejected suggestions that the United States boycott the Winter Olympics in Sochi if Russia grants asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

"Why would we want to punish US 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 Ohio Republican was asked about Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham's idea that if Russia provides a safe haven for Snowden, the United States should consider keeping its athletes home during the 2014 Winter Olympics next February.

Boehner said Graham was "dead wrong."

Snowden, who disclosed details about US intelligence surveillance of Internet activity, has applied for temporary asylum in Russia three weeks after arriving at a Moscow airport from Hong Kong. The United States wants Snowden sent home to face prosecution for espionage.

In the 1980s, the United States boycotted the Olympics over Russia's invasion of Afghanistan. The US Olympic Committee said in a statement Wednesday that it strongly opposes the idea that a boycott is in the country's best interest.

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

Snowden's fate has roiled already tense US-Russian relations.

At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney said he wouldn't speculate on any boycott of the Olympics, but added that the US agrees with Russian President Vladimir Putin that Snowden's case needn't and shouldn't harm US-Russian relations.

"It's a broad and important relationship," Carney said. "We want to continue to see that relationship strengthened."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.