President Obama on Friday said he was too busy to attend the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
“I haven't attended [the] Olympics in the past and I suspect that, you know … me attending [the] Olympics, particularly at a time when we've got all the other stuff that people have been talking about, is going to be tough, although I would love to do it,” said the president at his year-end press conference.
Obama this week announced his delegation to attend the games, tapping a number of openly gay athletes. The move was seen as a rebuke to Russian President Vladimir Putin after that country’s lawmakers passed anti-gay legislation earlier this year.
Obama has long had a frosty relationship with Putin, capped off by the Russian leader offering asylum this year to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
Neither Obama, first lady Michelle Obama nor Vice President Biden is attending the Olympics in Russia and the delegation does not include any Cabinet officials.
Obama said that the delegation, which includes tennis player Billie Jean King and figure skater Brian Boitano — both openly gay — “speaks for itself.”
“When it comes to the Olympics and athletic performance we don't make distinctions on the basis of sexual orientation. We judge people on how they perform, both on the court and off the court, on the field and off the field,” said Obama.
The president though said he would be cheering on the American athletes and would be “attending a lot of Olympic Games post-presidency.”
Some gay rights groups have called on the administration to boycott the games in protest, but Obama ruled that out earlier this year. The president said he was “offended” by the anti-gay Russian laws but that a boycott would only hurt the U.S. athletes who have trained for years.