German magazine Der Spiegel reported the president's decision was based in protest of Russia's human rights violations and harassment of opposition figures. CNN pressed the president's office to confirm the magazine's account. Presidential spokesman Tobias Scheufele declined to confirm the account, saying "he simply decided not to go" and "we're not saying anything about his motivations."
In October, the International Olympic Committee announced that there would be no discrimination against gay athletes at the 2014 Winter Games. The announcement followed passage of Russian legislation that outlaws individuals from publicly identifying as homosexuals.