Obama Selects Billie Jean King for Sochi Delegation

12.18.2013

By Out.com Editors

The openly gay athlete will be among a delegation at the Winter Olympics

The president, first lady, or vice president will not be going to Sochi for the Winter Olympics in 2014. But the White House, in what many are interpreting as a "strong message" to Russia for its anti-gay legislation, announced yesterday that tennis legend Billie Jean King, an openly gay athlete, would be among the delegation of Americans present at the Sochi Olympics, which also includes figure skater Brian Boitano, the 1988 Olympic champion. Caitlin Cahow, a two-time Olympic medalist in ice hockey who recently came out as lesbian, will be at the closing ceremony.

Andre Banks, the executive director of All Out, said, "It's hard to look at this delegation without seeing it as a criticism of Putin's anti-gay laws. … What it's doing is showing the true power of the Olympics, the ability to move people, to change people's minds and open them up to new ways of thinking. The delegation is shining a light on the values of the Olympics."

King, who turned 70 this year, was the subject of an American Masters documentary that called her the "most important female athlete of the 20th century." President Obama awarded King the Presidential Medal of Honor in 2009.

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