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Billie Jean King won’t attend Sochi opening due to family illness

Former U.S. hockey player Caitlin Cahow will take King's place
Wednesday, February 5, 2014

NEW YORK — Billie Jean King will not attend Friday’s opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics in Russia because her mother is ill.

Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King

King, who was selected to lead the U.S. delegation to the Games, has been outspoken in her opposition to Russia’s anti-gay law. She also planned to attend ice hockey and figure skating events and meet U.S. athletes during her three-day visit to the games.

The White House announced that former U.S. hockey player Caitlin Cahow, originally scheduled for the closing ceremony, will take King’s place.

King told The Associated Press on Wednesday that because of her mother’s “failing health, I will not be able to join the U.S. Presidential delegation at this week’s opening ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics.”

Betty Moffitt, her 91-year-old mother, lives in Arizona and has been ill for some time. King will be joined by her brother Randy Moffitt, a former pitcher for the San Francisco Giants.

“It is important for me to be with my mother and my brother at this difficult time. I want to thank President Obama for including me in this historic mission and I look forward to supporting our athletes as they compete in Sochi.”

The openly gay former tennis star has said she would like sexual orientation added to the list of protections in the charter of the International Olympic Committee. King was chosen in December for the U.S. delegation, along with openly gay former Olympic figure skater Brian Boitano and Cahow.

In June, Russia passed a law banning gay “propaganda” to minors. In an interview with the AP last month, King said: “It should be a non-issue. It’s just like people of color in our country and other places, it has to be a non-issue.”

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President Barack Obama has been publicly critical of the Russian anti-gay law and President Vladimir Putin’s “cold-war” mentality on other issues. For the first time since 2000, the U.S. delegation to the Olympics will not incl ude a president, former president, vice president or first lady.

The 70-year-old King, a social justice trailblazer who won 39 Grand Slam titles in her career, was tapped to enter the fray involving the delicate balance of Olympic sports and politics.

Other members of the U.S. delegation for the opening ceremony include former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and presidential adviser Rob Nabors.

The White House statement said “The President extends his thoughts and prayers to Ms. King and her family in this difficult time.”

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41 more reader comments:

  1. Is she worshiping Hitler? lol

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 4:45pm
  2. Is this really news

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 4:53pm
  3. Yes

    Replied on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 4:58pm
  4. http://samuel-warde.com/2014/02/human-rights-watch-video-anti-gay-attacks/

    Replied on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 6:25pm
  5. Why wouldn't it be news? He mother is ill and she won't be about to attend. If it hadn't been reported, people would wonder why.

    Replied on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 6:29pm
  6. Mike Farmer, you are showing your ignorance. She is openly gay, and part of the official U.S. delegation to a country with anti-gay laws. The fact that she doesn't attend at the last moment would cause people to speculate... so yes, it's news.

    Replied on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:02pm
  7. Why attend the Olympic Games which are suppose to promote goodwill to all, in a country which is so hateful?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 4:53pm
  8. Well wishes to her mother, get better soon.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 4:58pm
  9. hallehluilia

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 5:04pm
  10. yes, it is—she was going to be a great figurehead there—sorry to hear about her mom

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 5:05pm
  11. Sorry to hear that!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 5:07pm
  12. love you

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 5:09pm
  13. Cleveland-Akron 2014

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 5:15pm
  14. she had no qualifications to go anyway…i think obama just wanted to throw another out gay person in putin’s face…lol…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 5:17pm
  15. King became the captain of the United States Fed Cup team and coach of its women's Olympic tennis squad. She guided the U.S. to the Fed Cup championship in 1996 and helped Lindsay Davenport, Gigi Fernández, and Mary Joe Fernández capture Olympic gold medals. Those are her qualifications.

    Replied on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 6:34pm
  16. Sue!! such an idiot you are.

    Replied on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 6:36pm
  17. bummer

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 5:18pm
  18. Bummer!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 5:26pm
  19. I hope your mother gets better soon!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 5:30pm
  20. So sorry to hear the news

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 5:36pm
  21. Hope ur mom gets better

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 6:01pm
  22. She will be better off here !!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 6:22pm
  23. :-(…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 6:22pm
  24. @Sue Stewart what the actual fuck do you mean she had no qualifications ?? Do you even know who she is ! Go do 30 seconds of research !

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 6:23pm
  25. Sorry that she will not be able to attend but it’s more important to with family.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 6:26pm
  26. God Damn!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 6:31pm
  27. GOOD for you Billie. Mom’s are WAY more important that stupid games.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 6:35pm
  28. Sorry for the family illness but prob better/safer for her!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 6:46pm
  29. And sue wins the homophobic award

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 6:47pm
  30. I would have told the truth, IS BECAUSE THE DAMN WATER IN SOCHI!!! IT’S NASTY, AND THE ACCOMMODATIONS ARE NOT READY!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 6:47pm
  31. Why not cancel all together? Boycott. IF Nobama had any balls, there will be nobody going in his place. BOYCOTT.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 6:50pm
  32. replace her quick with Martina navratilova :)

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 7:10pm
  33. Billie, your mom is WAY more important than politics! Be well Ms. Moffitt!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 7:13pm
  34. oh no, who will go in her place now?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 7:30pm
  35. Boycott!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 7:53pm
  36. Should have said that in the first place thank you for your support

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:27pm
  37. Stay home and stay safe.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 8:36pm
  38. Fate moves in……

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 9:02pm
  39. Best wishes to her and her mom

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 9:43pm
  40. Wishing Billie and her family a warm and loving time

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 9:55pm
  41. By the way, it’s actually a sign of a possible neurological disorder to laugh at things that aren’t funny.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 10:12pm