Mar 7, 2014
In a Rebuke to Putin, Obama Names Gay Athletes to Olympic Delegation
Posted on Dec 18, 2013
In a bit of a diplomatic dance, the United States’ official delegation to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia will include gay athletes but no current government officials, a rebuke to Russia over a raft of diplomatic disagreements, including anti-homsexual laws in the anchor state of the former Soviet Union.
Instead of being led by either of the Obamas or Vice President Joe Biden, the delegation to the Feb. 7 opening ceremonies and related events will be led by Janet Napolitano, the former head of homeland security and current president of the University of California, who will be joined by openly gay athletes, tennis great Billie Jean King and Caitlin Cahow, who twice won Olympic medals in women’s ice hockey. Other delegation members include figure skater Brian Boitano and speed skater Bonnie Blair.
This will be the first time since the 2000 games in Sydney that the U.S. delegation has not been led by a high-ranking government representative.
“It’s hard to look at this delegation without seeing it as a criticism of Putin’s anti-gay laws,” Andre Banks, executive director of equality organization All Out, told USA Today. “What it’s doing is showing the true power of the Olympics, the ability to move people, to change people’s minds and open them up to new ways of thinking. The delegation is shining a light on the values of the Olympics.” According to USA Today:
The Washington Post framed the announcement against a backdrop of friction between the West and Putin’s Russia, noting that France and Germany already announced they would not be sending top government officials to Sochi. The Post notes that:
—Posted by Scott Martelle.
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