President Obama joins list of world leaders to snub Sochi Olympics

Neither the president or Vice President Joe Biden will attend the winter games

By Katie McDonough
December 18, 2013 4:04AM (UTC)
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Barrack Obama speaks at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela, Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013. (AP/Matt Dunham)

President Obama and Vice President Biden have joined the list of world leaders to snub the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Leading the United States delegation in the president's place will be former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, along with the president's deputy chief of staff for policy, the deputy secretary of the State Department, and other officials.

The group will be joined by tennis champion and former Olympic coach Billie Jean King and Brian A. Boitano, an Olympic gold medalist in figure skating.


As BuzzFeed notes, King is an out members of the LGBT community.

The decision by many top leaders to stay home during the games has been widely interpreted as a response to the Russian government’s crackdown on LGBT rights and other human rights violations.

The announcement from the White House comes days after French President Francois Hollande said he would not be attending the winter games; joining German President Joachim Gauck and European Union Commissioner Viviane Reding in the apparent symbolic boycott.

Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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