American ski champion Lindsey Vonn told CNN that she will strive to represent the American people, but not President Donald Trump, when she competes at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Asked how it would feel to represent the United States on a world stage during the Trump presidency, Vonn said, "Well I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the president. I take the Olympics very seriously and what they mean and what they represent, what walking under our flag means in the opening ceremony. I want to represent our country well. I don't think that there are a lot of people currently in our government that do that."
Vonn will be competing in her first Olympics since Vancouver 2010, when she won gold in the Downhill and Bronze in the Super-G. A knee injury forced her to withdraw from the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia, but Vonn returned to international competition the following year.
Vonn was also asked if she would accept an invitation to visit the White House if she won a medal in Pyeongchang, to which she swiftly responded: "Absolutely not. No. But I have to win to be invited. No, actually I think every U.S. team member is invited – so no I won't go."
Trump's presence in the White House has already prompted several athletes to skip the customary visit that follows a championship. Just weeks after his inauguration, several members of the Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots declined to visit the White House. Meanwhile, the NBA champion Golden State Warriors were in the process of deciding, as a team, whether they would visit the White House when Trump rescinded the offer after star Stephen Curry said he did not want to go.
Trump is not the first president star athletes have decided to spurn after championships. During Barack Obama's tenure, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady notably skipped a championship visit, as did Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta and Boston Bruins goalkeeper Tim Thomas. Further back, Michael Jordan also ditched a meeting with George H.W. Bush to go golfing and Larry Bird declined an offer to meet Ronald Reagan.