President Barack Obama made his first public comments about the White House delegation to Sochi that includes three openly gay athletes, saying the group “speaks for itself” in a press conference Friday.
The delegation includes tennis legend Billie Jean King, two-time Olympic hockey medalist Caitlin Cahow and 1988 Olympic figure skating champion Brian Boitano.
In February, they’ll be going to a country that passed a law in June banning the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations toward minors.
“When it comes to the Olympics and athletic performance we don’t make distinctions on the basis of sexual orientation,” Obama said.
Here’s the transcript of Sochi question to Obama:
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. What was the message you were trying to send with not only your decision not to attend the Sochi Games, but also with the people you named to the delegation to represent the United States at those games?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, I haven’t attended Olympics in the past and I suspect that, you know — you know, me attending Olympics, particularly at a time when we’ve got all the other stuff that people have been talking about, is going to be tough, although I would love to do it. I’ll be going to a lot of Olympic Games post- presidency. (Laughter.) I think the delegation speaks for itself. You’ve got outstanding Americans, outstanding athletes, people who will represent us extraordinarily well. And, you know, the fact that we’ve got folks like Billie Jean King or Brian Boitano, who themselves have been world-class athletes that everybody acknowledges for their excellence but also for their character, who also happen to be members of the LGBT community, you should take that for what it’s worth, that when it comes to the Olympics and athletic performance we don’t make distinctions on the basis of sexual orientation. We judge people on how they perform, both on the court and off the court, on the field and off the field. And that’s a value that I think is at the heart of not just America but American sports.
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The Chicago Marathon, scheduled for Oct. 11, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, becoming the fourth World Marathon Major called off this year.
Organizers cited the challenge of staging the 45,000-runner event “out of concern for the safety of event participants, volunteers, event staff and spectators.”
Previously, major marathons were canceled in Berlin (originally scheduled for Sept. 27), Boston (April 20, then Sept. 14) and New York City (Nov. 1). The London Marathon, originally scheduled for April 26 and postponed to Oct. 4, remains scheduled.
The other World Marathon Major, Tokyo, took place on its scheduled date of March 1 but with elite runners only.
Last year, Kenyan Brigid Kosgei won Chicago by taking 81 seconds off Paula Radcliffe‘s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record. Kosgei clocked 2:14:04.
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Figure skating Grand Prix events in China in November and December remain scheduled, the International Skating Union announced Monday, four days after reports about international sporting events in China being canceled through the end of 2020.
A notice about sports events, issued Thursday by the General Administration of Sport of China, made an exception for Beijing Winter Olympic test events and other preparations for the first Winter Games in China in February 2022.
The Grand Prix Final, the second-most prestigious annual figure skating competition, is still scheduled for December in Beijing because it is an Olympic test event.
Furthermore, the Cup of China, one of six events across the globe that determines Grand Prix Final qualifiers, remains scheduled for November in Chongqing because it is related to the Final.
“Like for all other five ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating events in the different countries, this is of course subject to finding the necessary logistical, medical and safety solutions to hold the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating events as planned,” according to the ISU.
The ISU previously announced it set a deadline to decide on possible event cancellations: 12 weeks before an event starts. For the first Grand Prix Series competition, Skate America in Las Vegas, the decision deadline is Aug. 1.
The ISU council will meet virtually on Aug. 3 to decide on further action for upcoming competitions.
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