Adam Rippon, an openly gay Olympian who will compete in U.S. men’s figure skating, has publicly stated he would not meet Vice President Mike Pence, who will lead the 2018 U.S. Olympic delegation to South Korea.
U.S. athletes traditionally enjoy meet-and-greet with the official delegation leading up to the opening ceremony. Rippon says he will be steering clear.
“If it were before my event, I would absolutely not go out of my way to meet somebody who I felt has gone out of their way to not only show that they aren’t a friend of a gay person but that they think that they’re sick,” Rippon told USA Today. “I wouldn’t go out of my way to meet somebody like that.”
Rippon also criticized Vice President Mike Pence for standing by President Trump and even blasted his Christian beliefs as “contradictory.”
“I don’t think he has a real concept of reality,” Rippon said of Pence. “To stand by some of the things that Donald Trump has said and for Mike Pence to say he’s a devout Christian man is completely contradictory.”
“If he’s okay with what’s being said about people and Americans and foreigners and about different countries that are being called ‘shi–holes,’ I think he should really go to church,” said Rippon.
Critics of Pence have pushed the notion he supports “gay conversion therapy,” citing a statement he made in 2000 on his congressional campaign website as evidence.
“Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior,” said the statement. Pence’s spokesman at the time, Marc Lotter, denied that he supported the practice.
Rippon said he might consider meeting Vice President Pence if it meant there would be a chance to have an open conversation.
“If I had the chance to meet him afterwards, after I’m finished competing, there might be a possibility to have an open conversation,” Rippon said. “He seems more mild-mannered than Donald Trump. … But I don’t think the current administration represents the values that I was taught growing up. Mike Pence doesn’t stand for anything that I really believe in.”
Rippon will also not go to a White House Olympics celebration hosted by President Trump.