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Stephen Harper announces he won’t attend Sochi Games

PM joins list of world leaders who have opted out of going to Russia

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has joined a growing list of world leaders who won't be going to the Winter Olympics in Russia. Credit: pm.gc.ca

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has joined a growing list of world leaders who won't be heading to the Sochi Winter Olympics in February.

According to the Toronto Star, the announcement from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) was made in an email released Dec 18. 

 The Globe and Mail says the PMO noted that Harper's decision not to go is not related to Russia's anti-gay laws; he usually doesn't attend, with Vancouver's 2010 Games being "an exception." 

The Canadian delegation to Sochi will reportedly be announced soon.

The announcement comes on the heels of news that neither American President Barack Obama nor Vice-President Joe Biden will be attending the Games. The White House has said that Obama's busy schedule prevents him from attending but that he'll be "cheering" from Washington. 

Biden attended Vancouver's 2010 Winter Games, while Michelle Obama led the American delegation to London's Summer Games in 2012, The Globe and Mail notes. The US is sending what has been described as a "high-level delegation," including three gay athletes, to Sochi.

French President Fran├žois Hollande, German President Joachim Gauck, European Union commissioner Viviane Reding, Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and Minister-President of Flanders Kris Peeters have also indicated they won't be at the event.