December 13, 2013 | by Chris Johnson
Who will lead U.S. delegation to Russian Olympics?
White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, Gay News, Washington Blade

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney had no comment on the U.S. delegation to the Winter Olympics in Sochi. (Washington Blade photo by Damien Salas)

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney had little to say on Thursday about who will lead the U.S. delegation at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia as he reiterated the Obama administration’s concern about the country’s anti-gay propaganda law.

Carney said he had no announcements regarding the delegation — or when its leader would be announced — under questioning from the Washington Blade in the aftermath of announcements from world leaders that they wouldn’t take part in their countries’ delegation to the Olympics over Russia’s human rights record.

“I don’t have any information on what that delegation will look like or the timing of that announcement,” Carney said. “I can be very clear that our views on the issues that you mention with regard to Russia’s civil rights record have been abundantly clear, and we’ve made it clear that we expect Russia to conduct the Olympics in a way that respects the rights of all participants. And that is what I said when this was an issue we talked about earlier, and it remains the case.”

This week, German President Joachim Gauck announced he’s personally boycotting the Olympics because of Russia’s human rights record. European Union commissioner Viviane Reding made a similar announcement, citing concern with Russia’s treatment of minorities.

The announcement from these world leaders that they won’t take part in the Winter Olympics in Sochi raises questions about whom the United States will send.

As Buzzfeed notes, the White House in 2012 announced that first lady Michelle Obama would lead the U.S. delegation for the Summer Olympics in London four months ahead of time. Although the 2014 Olympics in Sochi are two months away, the White House has yet to make any announcements.

Asked by the Blade whether Russia’s human rights record was a source of anxiety for the White House in choosing someone to lead the Olympics, Carney declined to comment.

“Again, I just don’t have any information on the process of choosing or naming the delegation,” Carney said.

In August, President Obama said “nobody’s more offended than me” over anti-gay legislation in Russia. Amid calls for a general boycott of the Winter Olympics, Obama said he doesn’t think that course of action is appropriate.

A transcript follows:

Washington Blade: Thanks, Jay.  Question on Russia.  The President of Germany and a European Union official announced this week that they were going to personally boycott the Olympics in 2014 in Sochi out of concerns of Russia’s human rights record, which, of course, includes the anti-gay propaganda law.  The White House has yet to announce who is going to be leading our delegation to the Sochi Olympics, even though that announcement was made four months ahead of time of the 2012 Olympics to London.  And Michelle Obama was the person who was leading the delegation at that time.  Is concern over Russia’s human rights record the reason why an announcement has not been made for that delegation?

Jay Carney:  I don’t have any information on what that delegation will look like or the timing of that announcement.  I can be very clear that our views on the issues that you mention with regard to Russia’s civil rights record have been abundantly clear, and we’ve made it clear that we expect Russia to conduct Olympics in a way that respects the rights of all participants.  And that is what I said when this was an issue we talked about earlier, and it remains the case.

So we don’t have — I don’t have any information on the delegation or when that will be announced or the particulars of the timing around the announcement except to repeat our views on this matter.

Blade: But is the human rights record — is that a source for anxiety in choosing who’s going to be leading the delegation?

Carney: Again, I just don’t have any information on the process of choosing or naming the delegation.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

1 Comment
  • considering the flame didn't actually survive its way to Russia, and in fact the torch that lit the olympic fire wasn't even the one the runners started with, I'd say it fare to say the Olympics are boycotting Russia.

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