Obama to Skip Olympics, Send Gay Delegates

Napolitano to head up delegation as VP, first lady will also skip
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2013 7:14 AM CST
Updated Dec 18, 2013 7:55 AM CST

For the first time since 2000, neither the US president, first lady, vice president, nor a former president will be attending the Olympic Games. But the US is sending a delegation to Sochi—a delegation that includes two openly gay athletes, the AP reports, calling it "a clear message" to Russia about how the country treats gays and lesbians. The Washington Post calls it "a pointed snub," and notes that the US is also in conflict with Russia on a number of other issues, including foreign policy. Heading up the delegation? Recently departed Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano.

Tennis legend Billie Jean King will attend the opening ceremony, while hockey player Caitlin Cahow will attend the closing ceremony; both are gay. The White House didn't specifically mention Russia's anti-gay laws when announcing the delegation last night, but noted that the group "represents the diversity that is the United States." King, for her part, recently discussed Russia's anti-gay laws, telling USA Today in September that, "sometimes I think we need a John Carlos moment. I would hope the majority of the athletes would speak out. It's a great platform. I wish I was 21 again and in the Olympics." Now King will get her chance, and USA Today calls the president's choice "genius." It's not the only recent blow to the Sochi Games: The presidents of Germany and France are also skipping. (More 2014 Sochi Olympics stories.)

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