Rippon: ‘I don’t want my Olympic experience being about Mike Pence’

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U.S. figure skater Adam Rippon said he doesn’t want his experience at the Winter Olympics to be dominated by Vice President Pence.

During a press conference Tuesday, Rippon — the first openly gay athlete selected to a U.S. Winter Olympic team — said he doesn’t want the attention on his comments on Pence to distract from his teammates.

“I don’t want my Olympic experience being about Mike Pence,” he said, according to CNN.
{mosads}Rippon added that he stands by the comments he has made about the vice president, whom he has criticized for his views on LGBTQ rights.
“I have no problem about what I’ve said because I stand by it, but I think right now the Olympics are about Olympic competition,” Rippon said.
He also said he “can’t tone it down,” noting he is “being me and being myself.”
“I’ve got so many messages from kids all over the country — I’m getting so emotional thinking about it — I think that’s why it’s so important,” he said.
“I think as an athlete I use this platform to my advantage. I think it’s giving my skating a greater purpose.”
Last month, Rippon said he disagreed with the Trump administration’s values. He added that Pence — who has long been seen as a top adversary to LGBTQ rights — “doesn’t really stand for anything I believe in,” asserting that the vice president supporter “gay conversion therapy.”
Pence’s office has denied the vice president believes in “gay conversion therapy.”
USA Today reported earlier this month that Rippon refused a meeting with Pence after the vice president’s staff reached out to the figure skater following his criticism.
Rippon’s mother earlier this month defended her son’s interactions with Pence amid the controversy. She said her son didn’t “refuse” to meet with Pence, but that he preferred not to do so before the competition.
Rippon also said earlier this week he would boycott a visit to the White House. He added that he would hope to do “something positive and not just stay at home” instead.
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