LONDON – The Winter Olympics in Sochi should not be affected by the heightened political tensions between the United States and Russia over Edward Snowden, gay rights and other issues, a vice president of the International Olympic Committee said Wednesday.

“If there are political tensions arising, it wouldn’t be the first time before an Olympic Games, and in the main, Olympic Games overcome political tensions,” IOC vice president Craig Reedie of Britain told The Associated Press.

Reedie downplayed the impact of President Obama’s decision to call off a Moscow summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The snub follows Russia’s decision to grant asylum to Snowden, the National Security Agency leaker, in defiance of Obama’s repeated requests.

Obama’s decision also reflects strained ties with Russia over missile defense, Syria, human rights and other issues. He canceled the summit with Putin exactly six months before the start of the Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in southern Russia.

“I think the games are quite clearly an occasion which encourages peace among nations and I’m pretty sure, despite pressures at the moment, that’s what will appear to the world in February next year,” Reedie said in a telephone interview.