(Editor's note: Since this article was published, former skater Brian Boitano issued a statement acknowledging that he, too, is gay. Here is his statement:
"I am currently skating in Europe but want to provide a statement regarding my appointment to the Olympic delegation. I have been fortunate to represent the United States of America in three different Olympics, and now I am honored to be part of the presidential delegation to the Olympics in Sochi. It has been my experience from competing around the world and in Russia that Olympic athletes can come together in friendship, peace and mutual respect regardless of their individual country's practices.
"It is my desire to be defined by my achievements and my contributions. While I am proud to play a public role in representing the American Olympic Delegation as a former Olympic athlete, I have always reserved my private life for my family and friends and will continue to do so. I am many things: a son, a brother, and uncle, a friend, an athlete, a cook, an author, and being gay is just one part of who I am. First and foremost I am an American athlete and I am proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance. As an athlete, I hope we can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations. _ Brian Boitano")
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama today named the official U.S. delegation to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, and the delegation selections send a quite a message to Russia's homophobic lawmakers.
Prominent on the presidential delegation to the Opening Ceremonies is one of the world's most famous gay athletes, Billie Jean King, who is outspoken in her support for LGBT rights on a global scale.
King, 70, is a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. She is enshrined in the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. During her amazing tennis career, King won a dozen Grand Slam singles titles and dominated her competition as the top-ranked player of her era. King also won 16 women's doubles titles and 11 mixed doubles titles.
During the fall, King told USA TODAY that Russia's "gay propaganda" law was atrocious and she hoped athletes would speak out against it:
"Sometimes I think we need a John Carlos moment," she said, referring to the U.S. track star who was expelled from the 1968 Mexico City Olympics along with American sprinter Tommie Smith for protesting racial discrimination.
"I think there's watershed moments, benchmarks. I would hope the majority of the athletes would speak out. It's a great platform."
Then she sighed. "I wish I was 21 again and in the Olympics."
Obama also selected Caitlin Cahow, a lesbian Olympian on the U.S. women's hockey team, as part of the presidential delegation to the Closing Ceremonies.
The U.S. women's hockey team, with Cahow as a defenseman, won a bronze medal at the 2006 Turin Olympics and a silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The women won the gold at two tournaments this year, including at the 2011 world championships held in Switzerland.
But Obama was not done snubbing Russian President Vladimir Putin. He broke with tradition, considering the icy relationships between the two nations over human rights abuses and the ominous homophobic law that has triggered a rise in homophobic violence in Russia, by not naming any key political officials to the presidential delegations. First lady Michelle Obama, like her husband a big sports fan, will be missing from the delegation unlike at the 2012 London Olympics. Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden will be absent, too.
The White House's announcement was terse and did not explain the snub. Here is the full text:
To be sure, Putin and Russian lawmakers will get the message. The U.S. joins other nations in snubbing Russian homophobia.
President Barack Obama today announced the designation of Presidential Delegations to the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russian Federation.
Presidential Delegation to the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games
The Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russian Federation will be held on February 7, 2014.
The delegation will attend athletic events, meet with U.S. athletes, and attend the Opening Ceremony.
The Honorable Janet A. Napolitano, President of the University of California, will lead the delegation.
The Honorable Michael A. McFaul, United States Ambassador to the Russian Federation.
The Honorable Robert L. Nabors, Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy.
The Honorable Billie Jean King, Member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, Member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Mr. Brian A. Boitano, Olympic gold medalist, figure skating.
The Closing Ceremony of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russian Federation will be held on February 23, 2014. The delegation will attend athletic events, meet with U.S. athletes, and attend the Closing Ceremony. The Honorable William J. Burns, Deputy Secretary of State, will lead the delegation. The Honorable Michael A. McFaul, United States Ambassador to the Russian Federation. Ms. Bonnie Blair, five-time Olympic gold medalist and one-time bronze medalist, speed skating. Ms. Caitlin Cahow, Olympic silver medalist and bronze medalist, women’s ice hockey. Dr. Eric Heiden, five-time Olympic gold medalist, speed skating.