Freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy and figure skater Adam Rippon, both openly gay, say they would decline an invitation to visit the White House if they make the 2018 U.S. Winter Olympics team.
"I have no interest in going. That’s a super small form of protest, but I didn’t vote for this administration. I am not standing by any of the policies that they’re enforcing and things that they’re doing," Kenworthy said, at an event in Utah for prospective U.S. Olympic team athletes.
“The things that Trump has done during his campaign and since he’s been in office that so intensely go against the things that I believe in, I have no desire to go and shake his hand,” said Kenworthy.
“I don’t think I’m competing for our administration. I think I’m competing for our country. I love our country. I love that our country is one that has the freedom to protest, the freedom to stand up for what you believe in and stand up for it.”
His views were echoed by Rippon, the 2016 national figure skating champion who hopes to make U.S. team for the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang , South Korea.
"The way that the Trump administration I feel treats most of the citizens that voted in Hillary Clinton’s favor is not a way that anybody should be treated," said Rippon. "If I were invited to the White House, which I consider a great honor, I would not attend."
Both Rippon and Kenworthy said they support NFL players who are kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice.
“I am a proud gay American, and I know I’ve been in situations where I felt not comfortable being gay,” Rippon told the Washington Post. “But in those situations, I can try to act straight and less gay. But when you’re black, you can’t be less black. The way I have felt in those situations, I would never wish that on anybody.”
The Olympic charter says that “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.” This means the chances of any athlete protesting the anthem is small and would not be well received.
Skipping the White House visit — assuming the team gets an invitation — would be one of the few areas where an athlete could take a stand on an issue that motivates them, though every such event is missing athletes for all sorts of reasons.