In a recent interview, Olympic gold medal alpine skier Lindsey Vonn made clear that she represents the American people and not the U.S. President at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president,” she told CNN. “I want to represent our country well, and I don’t think there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that.”
When asked if she would accept an invitation to the White House, Vonn’s answer was “Absolutely not.”
Vonn is not the first Winter Olympics athlete to have outspoken remarks against President Donald Trump. Freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy told Sports Illustrated back in June that he would not accept a White House invitation either.
“Rather than going there and shaking hands and feigning kindness, I'd rather let it be known that I don't agree with that,” Kenworthy said.
Just this week, the White House also sent mixed messages in regards to the participation of the U.S. in the upcoming Olympics. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Hayley said it was an “open question” as whether or not American athletes would attend the Olympics in Pyeongchang due to safety issues and the growing threat of a nuclear attack with North Korea.
And White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders followed that sentiment nearly 24 hours later when she said the White House had not yet decided whether the U.S. will participate or not. She stepped that back after the press briefing in which she said it, saying the U.S. looks forward to participating.
Coincidentally, the White House plays no role in that decision, as it is up to the United States Olympic Committee. Since the USOC does not receive any federal funding (unlike nearly every other country that competes), they are an independent entity and not a government organization.
All of that amounts to already swirling controversy around this year’s Winter Olympics, including Russia being banned as a result of their part in a 2014 doping scandal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. When the time comes for the Olympic Games in February, hopefully the focus can be solely on the athletes and the Games themselves.
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