Winter Olympians head to White House, with notable absences

The U.S. women’s hockey team, shown here in New York, will visit the White House. (Getty)

Olympians who represented the United States in PyeongChang are headed to Washington, D.C., and the White House this week, but some of the best-known names from the 2018 Winter Olympics won’t be in attendance.

Gus Kenworthy, Chloe Kim, Mirai Nagasu, Adam Rippon, Mikaela Shiffrin, Lindsey Vonn and Shaun White will not be visiting the White House for various reasons, but many others, including the women’s hockey team and the men’s curling team, will be in attendance. In all, about 200 Winter Olympians and Paralympians, roughly two-thirds of Team USA’s total, will participate in the festivities honoring the U.S. athletes.

While Kenworthy and Vonn long ago made their stances against the current administration public, not every absence is a political statement. Kim and White said they are attending weddings, while Nagasu and others are preparing for “Dancing With The Stars.” Many of the skaters are on a nationwide tour.

A visit to the White House was once a standard rite of passage for winning teams, a check-the-box stop where stars would present the president with a customized jersey, pose for photos, and everyone would go about their day. But in the era of President Donald Trump, where every decision (and, for that matter, non-decision) carries symbolic weight, a White House visit has become a political statement.

While teams such as the New England Patriots, the Houston Astros, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Alabama Crimson Tide have visited the White House largely without incident, President Trump angrily withdrew an invitation to the Golden State Warriors after Stephen Curry criticized the president’s policies. The Warrior instead visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture with local school groups. The Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles have not yet committed to visiting the White House.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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