By Agence France-Presse
President Donald Trump welcomed the US Winter Olympics team to the White House on Friday but several prominent members skipped the traditional event.
“You performed and you made us very proud,” Trump told members of the Olympic and Paralympic teams on the White House steps.
“And many of you came home as champions wearing a bronze, silver, or a gold medal,” he said.
Trump credited the Pyeongchang Winter Games with helping bring about this week’s historic meeting between South Korea’s Moon Jae-in and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un.
“A lot of good things are happening right now over there,” Trump said. “And the Olympics really helped to bring it all together.”
Trump praised the Olympic athletes, who were dressed in their white USA team outfits, some wearing medals, as “very, very special people” and “winners.”
“All of you, winners,” he said. “You’re going to be winners in life.”
The members of the Olympic and Paralympic teams presented the president with flags signed by the delegations.
Several members of the US teams skipped the White House visit to express their opposition to Trump, including figure skater Adam Rippon, Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn and freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy.
“All US Olympians and Paralympians are invited to visit the White House and meet with the President after the Games,” Kenworthy said in a tweet.
“Today is this year’s visit and USOC spokesperson says he’s never seen so many athletes turn down their invites. The resistance is real,” he said, referring to the US Olympics Committee.
Rippon, who won a bronze medal in the figure skating team event in Pyeongchang, also tweeted about boycotting the White House event.
“Olympians from the 2018 Games have been invited to go to the White House today,” Rippon said. “I will not be going.
“I will not stand with people who discriminate against those that they perceive as different,” he said. “In lieu of going to DC, I have donated to a few of my favorite causes.”