Sochi 2014: Russian Olympics chief downplays leaders' absences

Story highlights

  • Alexander Zhukov says the absence of world leaders in Sochi won't diminish the Games
  • "The point is the competition itself," according to the Russian Olympic chief
  • U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande will be no shows
  • Russia's anti-gay propaganda law "offended" Obama, he said in August

No prominent world leaders at the Sochi Olympics in two months? No problem, according to Russia's Olympics chief.

US President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande and German President Joachim Gauck -- among others -- are all staying away from the winter Games but Alexander Zhukov isn't concerned.

"The point is the competition and not that 20 or 30 leaders come to the opening ceremony," Zhukov, Russia's former deputy prime minister, was quoted as saying by Russian news agency RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

It was announced last week that Obama wouldn't be attending because of his schedule. In August, however, he openly criticized Russia's anti-gay propaganda law.

King: Gay Olympians should wave flag
King: Gay Olympians should wave flag


    King: Gay Olympians should wave flag


King: Gay Olympians should wave flag 01:09
Gay, fmr. Olympian's advice to athletes
Gay, fmr. Olympian's advice to athletes


    Gay, fmr. Olympian's advice to athletes


Gay, fmr. Olympian's advice to athletes 04:17

"Nobody is more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and lesbian legislation that you've been seeing in Russia," he said. "I've spoken out against that, not just with respect to Russia, but a number of other countries where we continue to do work with them, but we have a strong disagreement on this issue."

And Obama last week named tennis great Billie Jean King, who is gay, to the U.S. delegation at the Olympics.

Gauck reportedly is giving Sochi a miss to protest against human rights violations while French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said last week Hollande's attendance at the Games had "not been planned."

      Aiming for Gold

    • intv davies sochi iconic olympic images_00022301.jpg

      Sochi 2014: The verdict

      With the Olympic cauldron now extinguished, CNN takes a look at whether Russia's $50 billion Sochi budget was money well spent.
    • Canada's Sidney Crosby scores past Sweden's goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist during the ice hockey final at the Bolshoy Ice Dome during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 23, 2014.

      Sochi's top-10 sporting moments

      The athletes on show in Sochi provided moments of drama and destiny that captured the imagination and settled in the collective memory.
    • Norway's Ole Einar Bjoerndalen competes in the Men's Biathlon 15 km Mass Start at the Laura Cross-Country Ski and Biathlon Center during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 18, 2014, in Rosa Khutor, near Sochi. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images

      Here's Sochi's real winner

      Russia may have topped the medals table at the first Winter Olympics it staged, but which country was most successful per capita?
    • SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 08: Katie Uhlaender of the United States shows a bald eagle design on her helmet as she prepares to make a run during a Women's Skeleton training session on Day 1 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at the Sanki Sliding Center on February 8, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

      Sochi: The coolest gear on show

      From eye-popping helmet designs to F1-influenced bobsleigh, the Sochi offered a bewildering array of technological innovation.
    • Fireworks explode over the Olympic park at the end of the closing ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 23.

      Sochi's artistic ending

      Sochi's closing ceremony took an artistic look at Russian culture before the Olympic flag was handed over to South Korea for the 2018 Games.
    • The world's most expensive road?

      Critics say it would have been cheaper to coat this Russian road with caviar but will the route made for Sochi reap long-term rewards?
    • Tomas Portyk of the Czech Republic jumps during the Nordic Combined Individual Large Hill official training on day 10 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at RusSki Gorki Jumping Center on February 17, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

      360-view of Sochi ski jump

      Navigate your way around this spectacular 360-degree picture from Sochi's ski-jumping venue at the Winter Olympics -- and find out how it was created.
    • 'Come vacation in Sochi ... please!'

      Sochi's transformation has left even the local cab drivers a bit lost and confused -- but don't let that put you off visiting this rejuvenated Black Sea resort.
    • March of Sochi's sun athletes

      For a Winter Olympics, there are some very colorful characters from some very tropical climates taking part -- including this "Mariachi" skier.
    • Gold medalist Jamie Anderson of the United States and bronze medalist Jenny Jones of Great Britain celebrate during the flower ceremony for the Women's Snowboard Slopestyle Finals during day two of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 9, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

      The Olympics is their playground

      If snowboarders were an introduction to a younger, hipper, "slacker" generation of Olympians, the next wave has taken it to another level.
    • A prop from the Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

      Sochi: Russia's paradise lost?

      It has been dubbed Russia's Las Vegas. But has Sochi's massive renovation come at a cost to the region's stunning natural environment?