U.S. Winter Olympic Team Is Visiting the White House Today, But Many Chose to Stay Home
Members of the U.S. Winter Olympic team will visit the White House on Friday, but many of the most recognizable faces will be absent because of their political opposition to President Donald Trump.
Vonn, the most successful American alpine skier in history, has previously spoken out about the current administration and decided against participating in the visit.
“I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president,” she told CNN December.
Rippon and Kenworthy, a bronze-medal figure skater and silver-metal freestyle skier, respectively, both tweeted about their decisions to boycott the visit, citing the Trump Administration’s treatment of the LGBTQ community.
As the first openly gay members of the U.S. Winter Olympics team, Kenworthy and Rippon have used their platforms to protest, and publicly feuded with Vice President Mike Pence prior to the games.
“I would definitely decline my White House visit and when we were at our team processing, where everyone gets fitted for an Olympic ring they said: ‘Hey, you can pick this up at the White House visit’ and I said, ‘I’m not going to that’ and they were like ‘yeah, most of the athletes aren’t’,” Kenworthy said in February.
He made history when his celebratory kiss with his boyfriend was broadcast on live television.
“I will not stand with people who discriminate against those that they perceive as different. In lieu of going to DC, I have donated to a few of my favorite causes,” Rippon tweeted Friday.
He is preparing to compete on Dancing with the Stars and make a lot of money.
Other U.S. athletes from PyeongChang are expected to miss the visit to the White House, including Olympic champions Chloe Kim, Shaun White and opening ceremony flag bearer Erin Hamlin. It’s unclear whether their decisions are politically motivated.