Gasping sounds heard coming from MSNBC’s studios.

MOSCOW — The organizing committee for Russia’s Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics said Thursday it was “not really concerned” that President Barack Obama would not be attending the event.

Sochi will be the first games since 2000 not attended by a U.S. president, first lady, or vice president. Obama said his decision not to go was due to a busy schedule in Washington, but it has come against a backdrop of increased tensions with Moscow.

Asked if Obama’s decision to stay away was a concern, Head of Russian Olympic Committee Alexander Zhukov told NBC News: “The Olympic Games are the competition of outstanding sportsmen and this is the main reason why they are interesting.

“It’s not a summit, which only the country leaders attend. So we’re not really concerned about it.”

The U.S. and Russia have clashed over several issues in recent months, including the Syrian civil war and Moscow’s decision to grant asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

But it is Russia banning”homosexual propaganda” that has prompted many Western celebrities and rights groups to call for a boycott of the Sochi Games.

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