Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King doesn’t want Olympics overshadowed


Billie Jean King recognizes the impact of her presence on the U.S. delegation to Sochi. At the same time, the tennis legend stressed what she believes the Olympics are primarily about.

“I think when it all comes down to is it’s first and foremost about the athletes,” King said on TODAY on Thursday. “I was thinking about it this morning, trying to go way back when I was one of those athletes and how many years of discipline and how hard they work every day. This could be their one moment in time that they first represent their country and go for a medal.”

King, 70, was one of three gay athletes chosen by President Barack Obama in December to represent the White House at the Sochi Olympics. The others were two-time Olympic medalist hockey player Caitlin Cahow and Olympic champion figure skater Brian Boitano, who came out publicly two days after being announced on the delegation.

What kind of statement would King like to make in Russia, where a law is in place banning the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations toward minors?

“I think President Obama showed it,” she said. “He’s elected and selected three openly gay athletes, one very former athlete. I think Brian Boitano said it right. When we step off the plane, we are part of America. We are what America looks like. I think President Obama has done an amazing job on promoting diversity and inclusion.”

In September, King talked about the amount of activism from today’s athletes and said, “Sometimes I think we need a John Carlos moment.”

At the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, the sprinters Tommie Smith and Carlos, gold and bronze medalists, raised their fists on the medal stand during the national anthem in a human rights salute. They were expelled from the Games.

This fall and winter, U.S. medal hopefuls such as Bode Miller and Ashley Wagner have voiced opinions against Russia’s law.

“It’s really about human rights, civil rights,” King said. “The athletes are speaking out.”

King pointed out Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter, which states: “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”

She doesn’t want anything to overshadow the Olympics themselves but does not know what to expect. King’s plan in Sochi isn’t to check off attending events but to get to know the athletes.

“I’m going to look for future leaders,” King said.

Video: Brian Boitano says U.S. delegation must be careful in Sochi

Munich 1972 Olympic attack victims’ families detail massacre in documentary

Leave a comment

Family members of the Munich 1972 Olympic attack victims “described the extent of the cruelty” in interviews for “Munich 1972 & Beyond,” an upcoming documentary on the massacre, according to The New York Times.

Eleven Israeli athletes and officials were killed after being taken hostage by a Palestinian group in the athletes’ village nearly 40 years ago, with nine dying in a failed rescue attempt.

In 1992, widows of two of the victims learned details of how the athletes and officials were treated — including via graphic photographs — and recently spoke publicly about it, according to the newspaper.

“What they did is that they cut off his genitals through his underwear and abused him,” Ilana Romano said through a translator of husband Yossef Romano, an Olympic weightlifter, according to the newspaper. “Can you imagine the nine others sitting around tied up? They watched this.”

The documentary “Munich 1972 & Beyond,” announced earlier this year, is set to be released in early 2016. Here’s an interview with one of the film’s producers.

In 2014, it was announced that a $2.3 million memorial in Munich was planned to remember the victims, with the International Olympic Committee contributing $250,000.

At Rio 2016, a moment of remembrance will be held during the Closing Ceremony and a special mourning area will be in the Olympic village to honor those who have died during an Olympic Games.

PHOTOS: Munich 1972 Olympic sites, including massacre site

Youth Olympic flame lit in Athens ahead of Lillehammer 2016

Youth Olympics
Leave a comment

The torch relay for the second Youth Winter Olympics — in Lillehammer, Norway, from Feb. 12-21 — began with a ceremonial flame lighting at Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on Tuesday.

The stadium hosted the first modern Olympics in 1896.

The flame will travel across all 19 Norwegian provinces before the Feb. 12 Opening Ceremony at the 1994 Winter Olympic host city. The first Youth Winter Olympics were in Innsbruck, Austria, in 2012.

The Rio 2016 Olympic torch relay will begin with its ceremonial flame lighting at the ancient Olympic site of Olympia in Greece on April 21.

MORE: Youth Summer Olympics wrap with Closing Ceremony, Lionel Messi cameo