MOSCOW, Dec. 24 -- The possible absence of several world leaders in the upcoming Sochi Olympics will not affect the quality of the Games, a senior Russian official said Tuesday.
"The point is the competition, not that the 20 or 30 leaders come to the opening ceremony," Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) President Alexander Zhukov told reporters.
Speaking of the absence of U.S. President Barack Obama, Zhukov said, "Well, he hasn't been to a signal Games during his presidency."
"It doesn't reflect on the quality of the Games in any way," R-Sport news agency quoted the the official as saying.
So far, Obama and French President Francois Hollande have declined to attend the Games, while both German President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel could also skip Sochi.
Zhukov said he had not heard any announcement of boycott. "One must take it calmly. No one discusses it seriously, neither at the IOC (International Olympic Committee), nor at government level," he said.
The 22nd Winter Olympic Games are slated for Feb. 7-23, 2014 in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, with 98 sets of medals to be contested.