GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) - Adam Rippon doesnât want his monthlong dispute with Mike Pence over the vice presidentâs record on gay rights to overshadow his long-awaited Olympic performance.
Or those of the rest of the American team.
One of two openly gay U.S. athletes at the Pyeongchang Games, Rippon criticized the White House last month for choosing Pence to lead its official delegation for Fridayâs opening ceremony.
Pence has been considered an opponent of the LGBT community after the conservative vice president signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act while serving as governor of Indiana.
Critics say the legislation encourages discrimination against gay people.
âI donât want to make this too much for my competitors and for my teammates,â Rippon said after an afternoon practice session Thursday. âIâm just kind of focused on the competition. The opening ceremony is tomorrow. I donât mind talking about it but I donât want to distract my teammates.â
Pence, who arrived in Seoul on Thursday, also tried to bury the story.
He tweeted to Rippon: âI want you to know we are FOR YOU. Donât let fake news distract you. I am proud of you and ALL OF OUR GREAT athletes and my only hope for you and all of #TeamUSA is to bring home the gold. Go get âem!â
Ripponâs practice session ended before Penceâs tweet, but his mother, Kelly Rippon, told CNN she objected to the vice president calling the story âfake news.â
âWhen people keep saying that word, âfake news,â over and over again it implies that you can do things and you can never be held accountable for them because you just say that itâs fake,â Kelly Rippon said. âThat repetition of that term I donât think is good.â