Figure skater Adam Rippon is not happy with the choice of Vice President Mike Pence to lead the U.S. delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, next month.
"You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy?" Rippon, a first-time Olympian who came out as gay in late 2015, said during an interview with USA Today on Tuesday. "I'm not buying it."
On Wednesday, Alyssa Farah, press secretary for the vice president, responded to the allegation that Pence supports conversion therapy.
"The accusation is totally false with no basis in fact," Farah said in a statement emailed to The Times. "But despite these misinformed claims, the vice president will be enthusiastically supporting all the U.S. athletes competing next month in Pyeongchang."
Back in 2000, Pence made this statement on his congressional campaign website in 2000: "Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior."
Many have interpreted that comment to be in support of gay conversion therapy, although a Pence spokesperson told the New York Times in November 2016 that Pence does not support the practice.
Also in the USA Today interview, Rippon said of Pence: "I don't think he has a real concept of reality. To stand by some of the things that Donald Trump has said and for Mike Pence to say he's a devout Christian man is completely contradictory. If he's OK with what's being said about people and Americans and foreigners and about different countries that are being called 'shitholes,' I think he should really go to church."
Rippon, 28 was chosen for the Olympic team earlier this month after finishing fourth at the U.S. figure skating championships. He told USA Today that he may not participate in the traditional meet-and-greet between the athletes and the delegation before the opening ceremony.
"If it were before my event, I would absolutely not go out of my way to meet somebody who I felt has gone out of their way to not only show that they aren't a friend of a gay person but that they think that they're sick," Rippon said. "I wouldn't go out of my way to meet somebody like that."
He added: "If I had the chance to meet him afterwards, after I'm finished competing, there might be a possibility to have an open conversation," Rippon said. "He seems more mild-mannered than Donald Trump .… But I don't think the current administration represents the values that I was taught growing up. Mike Pence doesn't stand for anything that I really believe in."
1:15 p.m.: This article was updated with a comment from Alyssa Farah, press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence.