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Obama, Biden Won't Be at Olympics

Obama, Biden Won't Be at Olympics

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In a move interpreted as a protest of Russia's antigay laws, neither the president, the vice president, nor their wives will be in the U.S. delegations to Sochi, but some out athletes will.

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President Obama sent a strong message to Russia today with the announcement of the U.S. delegations to the Winter Olympics in Sochi -- they will not include the president, the vice president, their wives, or any current cabinet member, but it will include some openly gay athletes.

The delegation to the opening ceremony will be led by Janet Napolitano, the former secretary of Homeland Security, BuzzFeed reports. The top federal officials in the group will be Rob Nabors, assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for policy, who will attend the opening ceremony, and William J. Burns, deputy secretary of State, who will lead the delegation to the closing ceremony.

Legendary tennis star and former Olympic coach Billie Jean King, an out lesbian, will be part of the opening ceremony's delegation. Caitlin Cahow, a two-time Olympic medalist in ice hockey who recently came out as lesbian, will be at the closing ceremony.

Joining Napolitano, Nabors, and King in the opening ceremony's delegation will be Michael A. McFaul, the U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation, and Brian Boitano, an Olympic gold medalist in figure skating. Boitano has often been asked if he's gay but has declined to answer. McFaul will join Burns and Cahow at the closing ceremony, along with Olympic speed skating medalists Bonnie Blair and Eric Heiden.

The lineup is being seen as a protest against Russia's antigay laws and general climate of homophobia. "This marks the first Olympics since the 2000 Sydney Summer Games that a U.S. president, vice president, first lady or former president has not been a member of the delegation for the opening ceremony," USA Today notes. Obama did not address the matter in the announcement of Olympics attendees, but he has previously expressed strong disapproval of Russia's antigay policies. The presidents of France and Germany have also said they will not attend the games.

The opening ceremony will be held February 7, the closing ceremony February 23. Members of the delegations will also attend sporting events during the Olympics and meet with U.S. athletes.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.