Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Mike Pence in Pyeongchang rubbishes the notion that sport and politics do not mix

Posted on 8 February 2018 by Danny Ruddock

“Sport and politics do not mix” – if somebody came up with that phrase today it would possibly lay claim to the fakest of fake news award.

Mike Pence leads the USA winter Olympic team into the Pyeongchang games, with a very overt political agenda, not a shock considering the administration he represents.

Fred Warmbier, the father of Otto Warmbier who died in America after spending 17 months imprisoned in North Korea for attempting to steal a propaganda poster, has joined Pence in South Korea.

Pence tweeted: “Honored that Fred Warmbier, father of Otto Warmbier, will join us at @pyeongchang2018 in S Korea. He & his wife remind the world of the atrocities happening in N Korea.”

Trump even spoke directly to the Warmbier’s in his state of the union address on January 30th.

He said: “You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires truly us all.”

Neither man is mincing his words, Fred Warmbier is at the games for a reason and it has nothing to do with Olympic glory.

From world politics to social, the team the vice-president leads include Adam Rippon.

Embed from Getty Images

The figure skater became the first openly gay American winter Olympian when he qualified in early January.

Rippon, 28, is not happy with the choice of team leader and has not been afraid to air those views.

He told USA Today: “You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy?”

These comments are a reference to quote on Pence’s campaign website in 2000.

It read: “Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behaviour.”

The White House has strenuously denied their number two supports gay conversion therapy and there are reports Pence tried to organise a meeting with Rippon, which was also denied by the White House.

In a further article with the Washington Post, Rippon did not back down.

“I think his track record on LGBT rights is very clear and straightforward about his opinion of gay people,” he said.

“So when I was asked the question of what I think, I said exactly what I thought.”

Pence has tried to calm the storm, again using Trump’s favourite medium and his favourite phrase.

“@Adaripp I want you to know we are FOR YOU. Don’t 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 em,” he tweeted directly to Rippon.

No matter what you believe, the one thing that can’t be argued is whomever first uttered the phrase “sport and politics do not mix” is both WRONG! and likely SAD!