By Joel Sams
Senior News Writer
Recent disturbances in Syria have highlighted tensions between the United States and Russia, raising questions about the possibility for Asbury students to continue their traditional involvement in the Olympic Games in 2014.
Relations between Russia and the United States remain strained, but Asbury’s in- volvement in the 2014 Winter Olympics will most likely not be affected, according to Dr. Jim Owens, Dean of the School for Communication Arts.
“I don’t see a huge problem at this moment,” Owens said. “That could change if the U.S. [and Russia] get into a direct war with each other, which I doubt would happen. I think it would take an awful lot to make the U.S. back out of the Olympics.”
The Associated Press reported on Aug. 9 that President Barack Obama will not sup- port a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
“Answering questions Friday at a White House news conference, Obama said the United States was reassessing its relationship with Moscow but that U.S. athletes should not by penalized by the nation’s differences,” the AP said.
National differences remain, however. Times magazine quotes Sergey Kislyak, Russian ambassador to the U.S., as saying, “I’ve been listening to the discourse of relations between Russia and the United States going back to the Cold War. I’m concerned that they’re not in good shape. I’m concerned where they’re going. But I don’t think they’re going back to the Cold War, yet.”
The AP says that causes of the tension include “Moscow’s decision to grant tempo- rary asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden,” new Russian legis- lation restricting “gay rights activism,” and Russia’s support of Bashar Assad in Syria.
Differences over Syria are a factor in the failure to “reset” U.S. and Russian relations, according to Peter Baker, reporting for the New York Times. Baker says that the real problem is a difference of worldview.
“Where Mr. Obama feels compelled to take action to curb the use of unconventional weapons, Mr. Putin sees American imperialism at work again,” Baker said.
Despite national differences, the Olympics can provide a model for competition without violence, according to Scott Blackmun, chief executive officer of the U.S. Olympic Committee.
“The Games bring people together,” Blackmun told the AP. “They unite the world and break down barriers. The Games demonstrate how it is possible to compete fiercely but respectfully.”
According to Owens, the Olympic Games are an ancient model of non-violence.
“The Olympics were created as an alternative to war in ancient Greece,” he said. “It was meant to keep people from going to war—to allow participants to ‘battle’ in a safe way.”