President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and the First Lady Michelle Obama won't be a part of the U.S. delegation to the Winter Olympics in Sochi next year. But in a possible rebuke to Russia's restrictive anti-gay "propaganda" laws, the U.S. will send two members of the American LGBT community: Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and tennis legend Billie Jean King will be at the opening ceremony, while women's ice hockey bronze and silver medalist Caitlin Cahow will attend the closing ceremony.
Former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet A. Napolitano will lead the U.S.'s delegation to the opening ceremony on February 7, 2014, according to a statement from the White House announcing next year's delegation. The highest-ranking current federal official attending that ceremony will be Rob Nabors, deputy chief of staff for policy. Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns will lead a delegation to the closing ceremony on February 23, 2014.
By comparison, Michelle Obama led the American delegation to the 2012 Olympics in London. Vice President Joe Biden attended the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. Figure skating gold medalist Brian Boitano will also attend the opening ceremony, while speed skating gold medalists Bonnie Blair and Eric Heiden will attend the closing ceremony. Ambassador to Russia Michael A. McFaul will attend both ceremonies.
As it turns out, the U.S. isn't the only country declining to send its leaders to the Russian ceremony. Both French President Francois Hollande and German President Joachim Gauck have previously said they're not going.