In June, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning propaganda of “non-traditional sexual relations” and said the country will fine those holding gay pride rallies. The laws extend to athletes planning to participate in the Winter Games in Sochi.

At a press conference last week, Obama said he was “offended” by the laws, but argued it was an opportunity for gay and lesbian athletes to change Russian “attitudes” towards them.

“Nobody's more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and lesbian legislation that you've been seeing in Russia," Obama said. "But as I said just this week, I've spoken out against that, not just with respect to Russia, but a number of other countries where we continue to do work with them, but we have a strong disagreement on this issue.”

“And one of the things I'm really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which I think would go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we're seeing there," he added.