Sochi 2014 Olympics: Billie Jean King to Join Closing Ceremony

American tennis legend Billie Jean King, who couldn't make it to the opening ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Olympics because of her mother's death, was tapped by President Barack Obama to be part of the U.S. delegation to the closing ceremony.

Feb 16 2014, 8:23pm CST | by

Sochi 2014 Olympics: Billie Jean King to Join Closing Ceremony
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Billie Jean King was tapped by President Barack Obama to be a part of the American delegation to the closing ceremony of the Sochi Olympics. 

Laura Smith-Spark of CNN confirmed this in her Feb. 15 report

"Tennis legend and openly gay athlete Billie Jean King has been named as part of the presidential delegation to the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. 

"King, a 2009 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest U.S. civilian honor, was initially named as part of the opening ceremony delegation but had to pull out because her mother was ill. 

"Russia has faced widespread criticism over its position on gay rights since passing an anti-gay propaganda law last year, which bans anyone from speaking positively about homosexuality in the hearing of children. 

"President Barack Obama also named Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul to the delegation, as well as former gold medal Olympians Bonnie Blair and Eric Heider, a White House statement said.

"The delegates will watch some events and meet U.S. athletes as well as attend the final ceremony."

For her part, King told The Associated Press she is honored to be part of the delegation and also said she will use it as a means to honor her late mother and as a platform for equal rights.  

"I will use this trip to honor the memory of my mother and to further my mission of equality. I am thankful to President Obama for including me and I look forward to supporting the men and women of Team USA in Sochi."

She earlier explained to The Associated Press on Feb. 5 that she had to beg off from attending the opening ceremony on Feb. 7 so she can be with her ailing 91-year-old mother, Betty Moffitt. 

"It is important for me to be with my mother and my brother at this diffiicult time. I want to thank President Obama for including me in this historic mission and I look forward to supporting our athletes as they compete in Sochi."

Moffitt passed away on the day of the opening ceremony in Arizona. 

Figure skater Brian Boitano and hockey player Caitlin Cahow were also part of the U.S. delegation for the opening ceremony in Sochi. The latter was appreciative of the ambience in Russia, saying the people were "unbelievably welcoming," per The Associated Press

 
 
 


Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.

 

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