President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama are not on the planned White House delegation to the Sochi Olympics announced Tuesday.
Yet the list is noteworthy because it includes openly gay athletes: retired tennis legend Billie Jean King and two-time Olympic hockey medalist Caitlin Cahow.
Their presence in Sochi will be notable given Russia’s law banning the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations toward minors enacted last spring.
A White House statement said President Obama’s schedule doesn’t allow him to travel to Sochi and that the delegation “represents the diversity that is the United States,” according to reports.
King is on the delegation to attend the Opening Ceremony. Cahow is on the delegation for the Closing Ceremony. The delegations attend athletic events and meet with U.S. athletes.
“Honored to represent USA in Sochi and I hope these Olympics will be a watershed moment for the universal acceptance of all people,” was posted on King’s Twitter account Tuesday.
“Incredibly humbled and honored to be representing my country with this remarkable group,” was posted on Cahow’s Facebook account.
Also on the list are five-time Olympic champion speed skaters Bonnie Blair and Eric Heiden (Closing Ceremony) and 1988 Olympic figure skating champion Brian Boitano (Opening Ceremony).
The last time a delegation did not include a U.S. president, vice president, first lady or a former president was in Sydney in 2000.
“President Obama is extremely proud of our U.S. athletes and looks forward to cheering them on from Washington,” the White House said in a statement. “He knows they will showcase to the world the best of America — diversity, determination and teamwork.”
Camel carries Olympic flame during Sochi torch relay
Tokyo 2020 venues for the new Olympic sports of baseball, softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were approved by the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday.
That brings the total number of Tokyo 2020 venues to 39, with the potential for more.
The venues for new sports:
Baseball/softball — Yokohama Stadium (20 miles south of Tokyo)
Karate — Nippon Budokan
Skateboarding and Sport Climbing — Aomi Urban Sports Venue
Surfing — Tsurigasaki Beach
All of the new sports do not currently have a spot on the Olympic program beyond 2020 (baseball and softball were previously on the Olympic program before being taken off after Beijing 2008).
Agenda 2020 reforms allowed Olympic host cities to propose the addition of sports for their Games only, which is what Tokyo 2020 did to get them on the program.
The Tokyo Olympic venues are split between two zones — the Heritage Zone and the Tokyo Bay Zone — that are separated by the Olympic Village.
Tokyo 2020 and FIFA are still discussing the finalization of soccer venues. There are currently six, including two in Tokyo and one as far away as Sapporo (650 miles north).
Tokyo 2020 and the World Baseball Softball Confederation are still discussing the potential of adding a second baseball-softball venue in Fukushima prefecture, the site of 2011 nuclear plant meltdowns caused by an earthquake and tsunami. Fukushima is about 150 miles north of Tokyo.
The Tokyo Dome, home of the Yomiuri Giants and several MLB and World Baseball Classic games, is not a 2020 Olympic venue.
MORE: Tokyo 2020 Olympic volleyball venue could be moved
Comcast and the U.S. Olympic Committee signed an agreement making Comcast an official partner of the USOC through the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The deal allows Comcast and its brands to use Team USA marks in advertising and marketing, including the Olympic Rings.
More information is in this Comcast press release.
Comcast NBC Universal holds the U.S. media rights for the Olympics through 2032.
MORE: NBC Sports to air USA Track and Field events through 2024