Obama explains Sochi absence in interview with NBC’s Bob Costas
By: Jennifer Epstein
February 6, 2014 04:31 PM EST
President Barack Obama dismissed that he has an “icy” relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying instead there is a “surprising amount of humor,” in an interview airing Thursday.
“I wouldn’t call it icy. The truth of the matter is that when we are in meetings there are a lot of exchanges, there’s a surprising amount of humor, and a lot of give and take,” Obama said in an interview with NBC’s Bob Costas according to an NBC News transcript.
He added that he has always been treated by Putin “with the utmost respect.”
Obama also commented on Putin’s demeanor , suggesting in the words first reported in a now-deleted tweet from an NBC researcher, that the Russian president’s “bored, tough guy ‘schtick’ [is] aimed at internal audience.”
The president said openly gay athletes who are a part of the U.S. Olympic team competing in Sochi makes it clear that the U.S. does not discriminate and added that Olympic competitors are judged solely on their merit.
“How good you are regardless of where you come from, what you look like, who you love and that I think is consistent with the spirit of the Olympics,” the president said. “It is certainly consistent with American values and we want to make sure the people understand that.”
The president said he chose not to attend the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in part because he didn’t want to distract from the competition, he said in an interview airing Thursday.
“The folks that people are actually interested in seeing are our incredible athletes,” Obama said in an interview with NBC’s Bob Costas, according to a tweet from Jim Bell, NBC’s executive producer for the Olympics.
The full interview will air during the opening ceremonies broadcast Friday night, NBC said. Clips aired during NBC Nightly News on Thursday night.