In an interview with ESPN, the head of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) says that he hopes American athletes feel free to speak their minds before heading to the Sochi Games but that they will be at the Olympics to compete, not to be political.
In October, Blackmun said that the USOC was not putting pressure on American athletes to keep quiet about Russia's anti-gay laws, even as he warned about the consequences of speaking up at the Games.
"What we can do is advocate for change within our movement, so anything that we can do within our international Olympic movement, within the US Olympic movement, we want to do to make sure that people understand that we want all of our athletes, irrespective of any distinguishing characteristics or orientation, to feel comfortable and a part of the US Olympic team," he said then.
In August last year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) warned athletes about protesting at the Winter Olympics, a move that drew the criticism of human rights organizations.
More recently, the IOC's new president, Thomas Bach, reiterated that athletes should not court controversy at the Games by participating in protests or making political statements.
Blackmun also spoke with ESPN about security risks at the Games in the wake of two suicide bombings in Volgograd, located to the northeast of Sochi, that claimed several lives.
The US has issued a travel alert for the Russian Federation.