Some of the Winter Games’ biggest names are skipping Team USA’s White House visit on Friday in protest of President Donald Trump.
Although many Olympians and Paralympians are still planning to attend the event, Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn and figure skaters Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy are among those sitting out the photo-op with the president for political reasons.
“All US Olympians and Paralympians are invited to visit the White House and meet the President after the Games,” Kenworthy tweeted Thursday. “Today is this year’s visit and USOC spokesperson says he’s never seen so many athletes turn down their invites. The resistance is real.”
The U.S. Olympic Committee did not immediately respond to a question about the number of athletes attending this year’s White House visit.
The Washington Post reported that about 200 U.S. Olympians and Paralympians are expected to visit the White House this year, out of the total 242 Winter Olympians and 74 Paralympians.
All US Olympians and Paralympians are invited to visit the White House and meet the President after the Games. Today is this year’s visit and USOC spokesperson says he’s never seen so many athletes turn down their invites. The resistance is real. https://t.co/6mKJGicWDS
— Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) April 26, 2018
Kenworthy made his decision long ago, telling USA Today in September 2017, “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.”
The president won’t be the only Trump honoring Olympians this week. His daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump confirmed on Instagram that she’ll attend the Team USA Awards on Thursday night in Washington, D.C., celebrating Olympic and Paralympic athletes. At the request of her father, Ivanka also led the delegation at the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony in South Korea in February — a controversial appearance that prompted Kenworthy to tweet: “Honestly, tf is she doing here??”
Rippon, who is openly gay and previously feuded with Vice President Mike over LGBTQ rights, said he had other commitments this week but noted that he wouldn’t have made the trip to the White House anyway.
The figure skater was honored at the Time 100 Gala in New York City on Tuesday and on Friday night will skate in a “Stars on Ice” show in Pittsburgh.
“It’s a convenient out,” Rippon told USA Today. “I was not going or planning on going (to the White House) anyway. I have been invited to so many incredible things, to the Human Rights Campaign dinner, the GLAAD Media Awards. I was so honored and so excited to go to those, more so than I would be to go to the White House. It’s important for me to align myself with those people who have the same ideals that I have.”
Vonn told CNN in December before the PyeongChang games that she would “absolutely not” visit the White House when the time came. “No, I won’t go,” she said.
“I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president,” she told CNN. “I take the Olympics very seriously and what they mean and what they represent, what walking under our flag means in the opening ceremonies. And, you know, 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.”
Opening ceremony flag bearer Erin Hamlin, Chloe Kim, Jessie Diggins and David Wise are some of the other Olympic stars skipping Friday’s meeting with Trump, though they didn’t say it was because of the president.
Hamlin said she planned to visit Johns Hopkins Children’s Center instead, according to USA Today.
The whole U.S. women’s ice hockey team is expected to attend, said Brant Feldman, the agent for team captain Meghan Duggan.
“Everyone wanted to go,” he said. “It’s not about liking Trump or not liking Trump. They all wanted to be together again.”
Mike Moran, a former USOC spokesman who attended every White House visit from 1980-2002, told USA Today: “What’s remarkable is the number of athletes who have spoken out about not visiting the White House.”
“We had athletes who were angry about the 1980 boycott (of the Moscow Summer Olympics) and spoke privately to President Carter about that when they were on the platform getting their picture taken with him, but that wasn’t public. This is. I don’t remember any time when I was with the USOC that an athlete spoke out about not wanting to go to the White House.”