Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon said Tuesday he does not want his Olympic debut to turn into a feud with Vice President Mike Pence, despite previously vocally criticizing his politics.
Rippon, 28, a gold medalist and the first medaled American winter Olympic athlete to come out as gay, says he now regrets his public feud with Pence, believing it distracts attention away from his teammates, reported CNN.
“I don’t want my Olympic experience being about Mike Pence,” he said at a press conference. “I think as an athlete I use this platform to my advantage. I think it’s giving my skating a greater purpose.”
Rippon previously criticized Pence for his conservative Christian beliefs and allegations he supported gay conversion therapy while running for Indiana governor in 2000. Pence tried to set up a meeting with Rippon on Jan. 17, which the figure skater turned down, reported USA Today.
He previously tweeted on Feb. 9 that representing the United States is an honor, especially when doing it as his “authentic self,” alluding to being a member of the LGBTQ community. Skier Gus Kenworthy is the other athlete who publicly came out as gay during the Olympics.
Tonight I walked in the #OpeningCeremony and got to watch my old friend @Yunaaaa light the Olympic flame. Representing the USA is one of the greatest honors of my life and being able to do it as my authentic self makes it all so much sweeter pic.twitter.com/ZypvWkUBjD
— Adam Rippon (@Adaripp) February 9, 2018
Rippon reiterated his statement Monday that he would not visit the White House if given the opportunity, he told the Daily Mail.
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