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U.S. Includes Gay Athletes in Russian Olympics Delegation

The absence of senior U.S. officials signals worsening relations


RUSSIAOn Tuesday, the White House signaled its strong disapproval of recent anti-gay rights legislation in Russia by adding prominent gay athletes to the official U.S. delegation to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The delegation will include openly gay athletes including tennis champion Billie Jean King and hockey player Caitlin Cahow. No members of the First Family or senior U.S. cabinet secretaries will attend the opening ceremonies at the Russian Olympics. It will mark the first time that the U.S. delegation at an Olympics opening ceremony has not included a senior U.S. leader or First Lady in more than a decade, CNN notes.

Instead, a White House aide and the U.S. ambassador to Russia will lead the delegation. Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will also attend the opening ceremonies.

Earlier this year, Russia drew international objections after it passed a law forbidding the public promotion of what it terms “gay propaganda.”

Relations between the U.S. and Russia have deteriorated over the past several years. Russia’s decision to grant temporary asylum to National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden in August only worsened ties between Washington and Moscow.

Russia is hoping to use the Winter Olympics, which will be widely covered by U.S. media, to showcase its return to the world stage under the rule of President Vladimir Putin.

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