Feb. 7, 2014 at 7:03 AM ET
President Obama is not attending the games in Sochi, but he did record a special message for our athletes.
In a statement shared exclusively with TODAY, the president offered his well wishes to Team USA:
"Hello Team USA, I just want to say congratulations and good luck to everyone representing the red, white, and blue at the Winter Olympics and Paralympic games this year. We couldn't be prouder of you and we can't wait to see what you accomplish in the next few weeks.
But we're also proud of everything you've done to get this far. You have worked tirelessly, practicing day after day for years to become some of the finest athletes in the world. You excelled at the very highest levels of competition. Bring out your "A" game when it matters most. Competing with vigor and winning with grace. You've dedicated yourselves to the Olympic values of friendship, respect, and excellence in your sport and in your lives.
So you inspire us. We're going to be watching and we're going to be rooting for you. So on behalf of all your fans around the country including everybody in the Obama family. Good luck and go Team USA."
First lady Michelle Obama also noted the beginning of the Olympics.
Earlier, President Obama sat down with NBC's Bob Costas for an interview set to air Friday in primetime. The pair discussed security in Sochi, as well as the president's "constructive, respectful relationship" with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
"I wouldn't call it icy," Obama explained. "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."
The president also said his decision to include openly gay members in the U.S. delegation to the Winter Olympics made it very clear that "we do not abide by discrimination in anything, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."
Obama noted that openly gay athletes competing in the Games for Team USA also make a statement by their mere presence.
“One of the wonderful things about the Olympics is that you are judged by your 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,” he said. “It is certainly consistent with American values and we want to make sure the people understand that.”