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President Obama explains to Bob Costas why he didn't attend the Sochi Olympics

Mike Oz
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(NBC)

President Barack Obama went one-on-one with NBC Sports anchor Bob Costas in an interview before the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony aired for the primetime audience in the U.S.

Obama — a tired-looking Obama, we should add — talked with Costas from the White House, not from Sochi. (The interview was recorded on Thursday.) Costas addressed it in his first question to the president. Why didn't he attend the Olympics? And why didn't the vice president, the first lady or any other high-ranking members of the president's cabinet?

Obama's response: 

Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to go to the Olympics since I've been president. There are a lot of things going on. Even when it was as close as Vancouver, I didn't attend. And the vice president and first lady, obviously, they've got pretty busy schedules themselves.

But we're sending a wonderful delegation, headed up by Brian Boitano. Billie Jean King unfortunately has a family illness she's got to attend to. But Janet Napolitano, our former secretary of the department of homeland security [is there]. So we've got wonderful Americans representing us.

The truth is, Bob, the folks that people are actually interested in seeing at the Olympics are our incredible athletes. We will be fielding the largest team ever and I'm very confident they're going to bring home some gold.

[Related: Obama: U.S. would not spend $50 billion on Olympics]

Obama dismissed any notion that he has an "icy" relationship with Russia President Vladimir Putin and that his not being in Sochi has anything to do with it:

“I wouldn’t call it icy. The truth of the matter is that when we are in meetings there are a lot of exchanges, there’s a surprising amount of humor, and a lot of give and take."

On that note, here's a Vine the White House posted of Obama giving Team USA some brief rah-rah talk. At least he doesn't look as tired here as he did talking with Costas.

To see more of Costas' talk with Obama, watch it at NBCOlympics.com.

More Olympics coverage on Yahoo Sports:

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Mike Oz is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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