On Monday, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham floated the idea of a boycott of the upcoming Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Graham’s comments came in response to North Korea leader Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s Day speech hinting at a thawing of its adversarial relationship with South Korea and suggestion of sending a delegation to the Winter Games.
Allowing Kim Jong Un’s North Korea to participate in #WinterOlympics would give legitimacy to the most illegitimate regime on the planet.
I’m confident South Korea will reject this absurd overture and fully believe that if North Korea goes to the Winter Olympics, we do not.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) January 1, 2018
With the U.S. Figure Skating Nationals starting Wednesday, officials from one of the country’s most forward-facing sports had a chance to respond to Graham. They were not pleased.
“They shouldn’t be playing politics with this,” USFS President Sam Auxier told reporters on Wednesday. “I think they need to be careful saying things like that because these athletes have worked so hard to get there.”
Those are strong words levied against a powerful man in Graham.
Clearly, the last thing the USFS — or any Olympic governing body, for that matter — needs on the eve of its competition and selection process for the Winter Games is for its athletes to be subject to stress over whether they’ll even participate and the media attention that comes with the suggestion.
Auxier didn’t stand alone with his comments in what appears to be a coordinated effort to stifle talks of shutting down the Olympic dreams of U.S. athletes — and the money tied up with those athletes — for the sake of playing politics.
“It doesn’t help anybody,” USFS executive director David Raith said of Graham’s comments. “We’ll be there.”
U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Jones reiterated the stance presented by the USFS.
“We intend to bring full delegations to the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Jones said.
The USFS Nationals take place in San Jose, Calif. Wednesday through Sunday and will determine who represents the U.S. in Pyeongchang.
The women kicked off the competition late Wednesday night with their short program.
The women’s field has no clear favorites with veteran Ashley Wagner the most recognizable athlete competing. 2014 Sochi team bronze medalist Gracie Gold won’t compete after going through treatment for depression and a weight disorder.
More Winter Games coverage from Yahoo Sports