President Barack Obama? Nope. Vice President Joe Biden? Nope. Current cabinet officials? Nope. First lady Michelle Obama? Nope. The White House on Tuesday announced the presidential delegations to the opening ceremony and closing ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and the lists are as notable for who is not going to Vladimir Putin's showcase event as for who is.
The United States is not alone. France recently announced that its top officials would snub the games.
Michelle Obama led the U.S. delegation to the opening ceremony of the 2012 Games in London. But Russia has drawn heavy fire over its human rights record — problems Putin fueled when he signed a law earlier this year targeting supposed "gay propaganda."
But Obama seems to be sending a message by making former tennis superstar Billie Jean King one of the key figures in the U.S. delegation to the opening ceremony. The former world No. 1 player is regarded as the first globally prominent professional athlete to come out as gay.
The delegation to the opening ceremony on Feb. 7 will be led by former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, now president of the University of California. Joining her will be King, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, White House deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors, and Olympic gold-medal winner figure skater Brian Boitano.
At the Feb. 23 closing ceremony, the United States will be represented by Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, who will be joined by McFaul, gold-medal winner speed skater Bonnie Blair, ice hockey silver medalist Caitlin Cahow and Eric Heiden, another speed skating gold medalist.