WASHINGTON – The White House announced Tuesday that President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and the first lady will not attend the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in February, a pointed snub by an administration that is feuding with Russian leaders on a range of foreign policy and human rights issues.
The U.S. delegation will be led by a former Cabinet secretary and a deputy secretary of state, and will include two openly gay athletes — tennis legend Billie Jean King and ice hockey player Caitlin Cahow — in an apparent bid to highlight opposition to Russia’s anti-homosexual laws.
It marks the first time since the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney that a U.S. Olympics delegation did not include a president, first lady or vice president. The White House made the announcement in a news release late Tuesday.
Officials said Obama’s schedule would not permit him to attend the games during a two-week period beginning Feb. 7, although they did not specify what the president would be doing instead.