WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Thursday that he had included openly gay athletes in the U.S. Olympic delegation to send a message to Russia that the U.S. would not conform to discrimination in sports or anywhere else.
“There is no doubt we wanted to make it very clear that we do not abide by discrimination in anything, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” Obama said in an interview with NBC News.
“One of the wonderful things about the Olympics is that you are judged by your merit, how good you are regardless of where you come from, what you look like, who you love and that I think is consistent with the spirit of the Olympics,” said Obama.
The remarks come of the eve of the opening ceremonies in Sochi, and just hours after senior Russian officials again warned athletes and spectators from promoting gay rights while in Russia.
Obama selected openly gay figure skater Brian Boitano and women’s hockey player Caitlin Cahow for the U.S. delegation attending Friday’s opening of the game. Tennis legend and gay rights activist Billie Jean King was also scheduled to attend, but pulled out because her mother is ill.
The full interview is at NBC News.