Russia can be a very intimidating place. Russia's President Vladimir Putin can be a very intimidating man. But 65 world leaders are going to brave it in order to appear at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, according to the Denver Post on Feb. 6. Coincidentally, 65 countries boycotted the Summer Olympic Games the last time they came to this part of the world, and that Moscow Olympics boycott in the Soviet Union was spearheaded by none other than the then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
Pres. Barack Obama, like Mr. Carter, will be sitting out the games this year, choosing to stay within the borders of his own country in protest of the human rights issues he feels warrant his displeasure, like the anti-gay law Vladimir Putin is enforcing.
Joining Pres. Obama in refusing to attend and cheer on their national athletes include French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron and German President Joachim Gauck.
Despite the fact that four of the most prominent world leaders will not be in attendance when the opening ceremony commences in Russia, the impact will be miniscule, as there will be three times the dignitary attendance realized in 2010 at the Vancouver games. And it is rumored that those who will be in attendance include some powerful movers and shakers in the world economy and political circles today.
For example, the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon was present during the IOC dinner Thursday night, and he will carry the Olympic torch. And since Ban spent his time becoming a career diplomat before assuming his post for the past six years as the U.N. as Secretary-General, then he's definitely one world leader Putin would want to be present.
Pres. Obama's absence at the billions-dollar event flies in the face of the other trips he has taken for less internationally-motivated reasons. And one would hope he isn't taking issue with a nation trying to protect its children from abuses by criminals of any sexual persuasion. In addition, his absence leaves Americans with no one representing them at the table in Russia this week for the first ever IOC President's Dinner, according to Olympic.org.
But it appears he may have security concerns in addition to mere issues with the anti-gay law in place in Russia. And with so many world leaders expected to be in Russia during this time, it would not do for the American president to also be in Sochi if a terrorist attack does occur on Russian soil.