Boehner rejects Olympics boycott, says it would 'punish' athletes

| Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 9:06 p.m.

WASHINGTON — 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 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 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 in February.

Snowden, who disclosed details about U.S. intelligence surveillance of Internet activity, has applied for temporary asylum in Russia three weeks since 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 U.S. Olympic Committee said in a statement on Wednesday that it strongly opposes the idea that a boycott is in the country's best interest.

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