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TODAY   |  July 17, 2013

Sen. Lindsey Graham suggests Olympics boycott

Responding to the case of Edward Snowden and other ongoing tensions with Russia, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested the U.S. consider threatening a boycott of the winter Olympics in Sochi to pressure Vladimir Putin. NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reports.

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>>> the world is counting down to next year's winter olympics in sochi russia but this morning a top ranking senator in this country is floating a controversial idea that the u.s. boycott those games. kelly o'donnell has details on that. kelly, good morning.

>> good morning, matt. this is a provocative twist on the case of edward snowden and on going tensions with russia . the suggestion that the u.s. could, could tell russia that it will skip the big olympic party in february but when jeopardizing the olympic games for american athletes, get vladimir putin 's attention?

>> a different kind of olympic torch .

>> i love the olympics but i hate what the russian government is doing throughout the world.

>> reporter: senator lindsey graham is turning up the heat before russia plays host to the world for the winter games .

>> the 22nd olympic winter games in 2014 are awarded to the city of sochi.

>> reporter: now playing host to nsa leeker edward snowden in the moscow airport where he requested political asylum .

>> i don't know if putting the olympics on the table is the right answer but i know what we're doing is not working.

>> reporter: graham says the u.s. should consider using it's political muscle to threaten a boycott to pressure putin for more cooperation.

>> yes i would consider it. athletes would be heart broken.

>> reporter: but some experts disagree.

>> it will get president putin 's attention but i don't think it's the right way to solve our growing list of bilateral problems.

>> reporter: back in 1980 american olympic athletes were kept home from the moscow games in protest of the soviet invasion of afghanistan . the soviets sat down the los angeles games in '84. putin backs iran and syria. and they say russia shouldn't get the celebration siting this history.

>> if you could go back in time would you have allowed hitler to host the olympics in germany?

>> reporter: he's not comparing today's russia to nazi germany but wants to say olympic host countries could be responsible players in the world.