Brian Boitano

Brian Boitano says U.S. delegation has to be careful in Sochi (video)


Olympic champion figure skater Brian Boitano expressed gratitude and caution in his first interview since being named to the White House delegation to Sochi and coming out as gay two weeks ago.

“When the president named the delegation, and I read in the news what his message was of tolerance and diversity, I thought I have to take this opportunity [to come out],” Boitano said on TODAY on Thursday. “I think the message is so strong, I’ve always wanted to represent my country as best I could. I knew that I had to go past my comfort zone and reveal a private side of my life that I had never done before because I felt that the message is so strong.”

Boitano and two other gay athletes — two-time Olympic hockey medalist Caitlin Cahow and tennis legend Billie Jean King — were among the delegation named by president Barack Obama on Dec. 17.

“I was so honored to be asked by the White House,” Boitano said. “Going through the whole vetting process and being named to the delegation, it was really interesting because I didn’t know who was going to be on the delegation or any part of it.”

He’s set to travel to Sochi the day before the Opening Ceremony. His actions will be scrutinized in Russia, where a law is in place banning the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations toward minors.

“I think that we have to be careful once we go over there,” Boitano said. “I think the statement is already being made by us being on the delegation — Billie Jean and Caitlin — and us standing together, united as gay people showing that there is freedom of speech and we are successful human beings and athletes. I think that speaks measures.”

Boitano urged freedom of expression for anybody in Sochi, though.

“I encourage everybody to do what they feel is best for themselves,” he said. “I never thought that I would be coming out in this way. In a matter of 10 hours, I decided to do it. That was what was right for me at this time. I tell everybody that I think that they should do what’s right for them at their correct time.”

Boitano, 50, came out publicly two days after he was named to the delegation. He said his life has changed and the reaction has been fantastic and supportive.

“I really never felt that I had to [come out publicly],” he said. “I’ve always been a private person. I’ve kept my private side of my life special for family and friends who really knew me. I’ve never been ashamed of who I was. I’ve always been open with them, so I really didn’t feel that there was a need. I’m just a private guy. I realize that there was a public side of my life and a private side. I’ve always chosen to keep my sexuality private.”

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Pyeongchang 2018 video looks at Olympic venues, slogan

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Pyeongchang Olympic organizers published a promotional video Friday highlighting the South Korean host’s venues and its slogan, “Passion. Connected.”

The video highlights South Korea’s history of hosting major sports events — the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, the 2002 FIFA World Cup across Japan and South Korea and the 2011 World Track and Field Championships in Daegu — which was also a point during its host city candidacy several years ago.

Pyeongchang finally earned the right to host the Olympics after finishing second in voting for the 2010 Winter Games (losing by three votes) and the 2014 Winter Games (losing by four votes).

The Opening Ceremony on Feb. 9, 2018, will mark the first Winter Games in East Asia in 20 years.

The slogan was announced on May 16, 2015.

MORE: Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic news

Australia gold medalist swimmer gets mole removed after heads-up from fan

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 06:  Mack Horton of Australia celebrates winning gold in the Final of the Men's 400m Freestyle on Day 1 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 6, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Mack Horton, the Olympic 400m freestyle champion, said he had a mole on his chest removed after a fan emailed his Australian swim team doctor alerting to get it checked out.

Horton said he believed the concerned fan may have been a skin specialist, according to the (Melbourne) Herald Sun.

“I’ve been watching this mole for a little while, Mack should probably go and get it checked out,” Horton said the fan said in an email to the doctor, according to the report. “They just looked at it [Thursday] and said let’s take it out now.

“They checked my whole body and then looked at this one and said we’d rather do it sooner rather than later.”

Horton joked on Australian TV that he probably owes the fan a free swim lesson.

“Sometimes I was blasé and sometimes I’d see it in the mirror and say, ‘I probably should get this one checked out,’ because I had noticed it had been changing a little bit, but I guess this person calling me out on it made me finally go and do it, which was a good thing,” Horton said, according to the newspaper.

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