Obama to send Billie Jean King to Sochi in his place (heh)

bjking-obama.jpgThis is a nice response to the anti-gay posturing coming from Russia's leadership. Instead of making the trip himself or sending the VP to the opening ceremonies of the upcoming Winter Olympics, President Obama has instead appointed a delegation of Americans to attend. University of California president Janet Napolitano heads the delegation, but the group just happens to include one of the country's most historically prominent gay athletes, tennis icon Billie Jean King. Also in the delegation is U.S. hockey player Caitlin Cahow, a lesbian who will attend the closing ceremony. From ESPN:

King said she was "deeply honored" to be named to the delegation.

"I am equally proud to stand with the members of the LGBT community in support of all athletes who will be competing in Sochi and I hope these Olympic Games will indeed be a watershed moment for the universal acceptance of all people," said King, who will attend the opening ceremony....

The U.S. Olympic Committee made no comment about the sexual orientation of the delegation. In a nod to its disapproval of the law, however, the USOC recently revised its non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation.

France and Germany are among the other countries who will not send their presidents to Sochi for the Games.

Earlier this year, Obama rejected the idea of a U.S. boycott of the Olympics despite a number of differences with Russia, including the anti-gay law.

This move, however, sends a strong signal: In 2010, vice president Joe Biden led the delegation, and in 2012, first lady Michelle Obama held the honor.

King, who was born in Long Beach and attended Cal State LA, in 2009 became the first female athlete to be honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Another view comes from Alan Abrahamson, at the LA-based 3 Wire Sports, in an open letter to the president on the site — he calls the move an arrogant expression of American exceptionalism that has "disrespected the Russians — and in particular the Russian president, Vladimir Putin — big time." It also disrespects American athletes, Abrahamson says.

Mr. President, you have also sparked potential problems for the athletes on the U.S. team and, looking ahead, for the possibility of an American bid for the 2024 Summer Games, because in this matter of protocol you have also made clear your disregard for the International Olympic Committee.

All of this in the name of politics....

Mr. President, you are a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. You know full well the Olympics are a time when nations are supposed to give politics a rest, if only briefly.

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