Olympian Gus Kenworthy took his beef with Vice President Mike Pence from the slopes to the set of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. The out freeskier appeared as a guest Monday on the talk show and spoke with DeGeneres about the controversial choice of Pence to lead the U.S. Olympic delegation to PyeongChang, South Korea, this week.
Kenworthy criticized the decision allow an antigay politician in this role. “To have somebody leading the delegation that’s directly attacked the LGBT community — and just a cabinet in general that just sort of stands against us and has tried to do things to set us back — it just seems like a bad fit,” Kenworthy said. “The Olympics is all about inclusion and people coming together, and it seems like it’s not really doing that.”
The out host said she shares that opinion. “I agree with you,” DeGeneres responded. “It’s a weird choice.”
Kenworthy also tied the issue to media representation as a whole, and credited DeGeneres in part with paving the way for athletes to compete openly. “It’s just incredible to see how things have changed because of people like you and athletes in the past, and so many people who have paved the way,” he said.
This year in particular seems the worst moment to have Pence lead the delegation, Kenworthy said. “We’re in 2018. We’re going into the Olympics, and myself and Adam Rippon are the first openly gay males competing in the Olympics.” Now is not the time, Kenworthy said for such a divisive action.
Rippon, who will compete in men’s figure skating, first criticized the decision for Pence to lead the delegation to USA Today. Kenworthy said he first learned of the issue from that interview, and quickly came out against Pence as well. Pence responded to Rippon’s initial criticism, but has mostly used the opportunity to lead the delegation to send a message to North Korea.