U.S. Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon plans to skip the U.S. Olympic team’s visit to the White House after the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, he said.
Rippon, 28, told the Daily Mail he won’t attend the celebration at the White House “to support my community.” The figure skater is one of the first openly gay Team USA athletes to compete in the Winter Olympics, and Rippon has criticized Vice President Mike Pence and the Trump administration for their views on gay rights.
“No. I have no desire to go to the White House,” Rippon told the Daily Mail. “But I would like to do something to help my community.”
The figure skater said he wants to host an event to highlight his efforts supporting gay rights and protesting homophobia.
“I have kind of spoken out loud, and I’d like to do something positive and not just stay home,” Rippon said.
Rippon criticized Pence in an interview last month after the vice president was selected to lead the U.S. delegation to the 2018 Olympics. The figure skater specifically took aim at what he said were Pence’s anti-gay views and said the vice president “doesn’t really stand for anything that I really believe in.”
He also slammed Pence for supporting President Trump and the administration despite some of the president’s divisive comments.
The vice president tweeted his support for Rippon and all Team USA athletes before the start of the Winter Olympics.
“[email protected] I want you to know we are FOR YOU. Don’t let fake news distract you. I am proud of you and ALL OF OUR GREAT athletes and my only hope for you and all of #TeamUSA is to bring home the gold. Go get ‘em!” Pence tweeted.
.@Adaripp I want you to know we are FOR YOU. Don’t let fake news distract you. I am proud of you and ALL OF OUR GREAT athletes and my only hope for you and all of #TeamUSA is to bring home the gold. Go get ‘em!— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) February 8, 2018
Former presidents have held receptions for U.S. Olympians. President Barack Obama invited Team USA athletes to the White House several times, including after the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Rippon won’t be the only Olympian to skip a visit to the White House. Team USA alpine skier Lindsey Vonn told CNN in December she wouldn’t go to the White House.