Dec 17, 2013, 10:17 PM EST
President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama are not on the planned White House delegation to the Sochi Olympics announced Tuesday.
Yet the list is noteworthy because it includes openly gay athletes: retired tennis legend Billie Jean King and two-time Olympic hockey medalist Caitlin Cahow.
Their presence in Sochi will be notable given Russia’s law banning the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations toward minors enacted last spring.
A White House statement said President Obama’s schedule doesn’t allow him to travel to Sochi and that the delegation “represents the diversity that is the United States,” according to reports.
King is on the delegation to attend the Opening Ceremony. Cahow is on the delegation for the Closing Ceremony. The delegations attend athletic events and meet with U.S. athletes.
“Honored to represent USA in Sochi and I hope these Olympics will be a watershed moment for the universal acceptance of all people,” was posted on King’s Twitter account Tuesday.
“Incredibly humbled and honored to be representing my country with this remarkable group,” was posted on Cahow’s Facebook account.
Also on the list are five-time Olympic champion speed skaters Bonnie Blair and Eric Heiden (Closing Ceremony) and 1988 Olympic figure skating champion Brian Boitano (Opening Ceremony).
The last time a delegation did not include a U.S. president, vice president, first lady or a former president was in Sydney in 2000.
“President Obama is extremely proud of our U.S. athletes and looks forward to cheering them on from Washington,” the White House said in a statement. “He knows they will showcase to the world the best of America — diversity, determination and teamwork.”
- Maksim Kovtun rallies to win Trophee Bompard; Grand Prix Final picture 0
- Ashley Wagner in Grand Prix Final fight after finishing behind Russians at Trophee Bompard 0
- Angelina Jolie showed Louis Zamperini scenes of ‘Unbroken’ on hospital bed 0
- Joss Christensen becomes ‘mountain man’ since Sochi Olympics 0
- IOC proposes adding Olympic events, bid reforms 0
- Ryan Lochte: I have no doubt Michael Phelps will come back 1
- Doha gets 2019 World Track and Field Championships over Eugene, Barcelona 2
- Emotional Bode Miller medals in race that mattered most (61)
- Russian women kissing after relay victory at World Championships causes stir (60)
- IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics (47)
- South Korea filing official complaint over Yuna Kim’s Olympic silver (39)
- Zola Budd, 47, dominates college runners in 5K (33)