President Obama said he “no doubt” wanted to make clear to Russia that the United States doesn’t accept discrimination by sending gay athletes to the Olympics.
Obama sent hockey player Caitlin Cahow and figure skater Brian Boitano to represent the U.S. delegation — both are openly gay.
“There is no doubt we wanted to make it very clear that we do not abide by discrimination in anything, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and one of the wonderful things about the Olympics is that you are judged by your merit,” Obama said in an interview with Bob Costas on Thursday.
An excerpt of Obama’s interview with NBC News was broadcast Thursday evening, and the full interview will air Friday at 8 p.m.
Costas asked how satisfied Obama is with the level of cooperation between Russian and American intelligence in keeping the Olympic games safe.
“Well, I think the Russians have an enormous stake, obviously, in preventing any kind of terrorist act or violence at these venues. They have put a lot of resources into it,” Obama said. “We’re in constant communications with them, both at the law enforcement level, at the military level, at the intelligence levels, and it’s not untypical of every Olympics, whether it’s in Canada or China or anyplace else. We are consistently working with them to make sure that not only our athletes are safe, but everyone who’s attending these Games are safe.”
Asked if he would call his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin “icy,” Obama demurred.
“I wouldn’t call it icy,” he said, adding that Putin has always treated him with the "utmost respect."
“He does have a public style, where he likes to sit back and look a little bored during the course of joint interviews. I think that’s where some of these perceptions come up. My sense is that’s part of his shtick back home politically, as wanting to look like the tough guy. U.S. politicians have a different style. We tend to smile once in a while,” Obama added.
The games begin Thursday.