Billie Jean King out of Olympics delegation

Tennis champion and gay rights activist Billie Jean King will not join the official U.S. presidential delegation to the Sochi Winter Olympics, the White House said Wednesday.

King will not travel to the opening ceremonies due to her mother's poor health, NBC News reported.

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The selection of King, who is openly gay, had been seen as a political decision intended to underscore U.S. opposition to recently enacted anti-gay laws in Russia.

"In the selection of this delegation, we are sending the message that the United States is a diverse place," White House press secretary Jay Carney said in December.

Carney stopped short of characterizing the delegation as a direct protest, saying the administration's opposition to laws that threaten fines and imprisonment for those who stage gay pride rallies or events had been long established.

"I think we have made no bones about the fact that we strongly oppose and are offended by the anti-LGBT legislation," Carney said.

The delegation will still include hockey player Caitlin Cahow, who is also openly gay.

Last summer, Obama said he did not "think it's appropriate to boycott the Olympics" — but said he hoped gay American athletes would win medals and change minds.

"One of the things I'm really looking forward to is maybe some gay and lesbian athletes bringing home the gold or silver or bronze, which I think would go a long way in rejecting the kind of attitudes that we're seeing there," he said.

The president also visited with gay rights activists during his trip to St. Petersburg for an economic summit.