White House sends mixed signals on U.S. Winter Olympic participation


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UN ambassador Nikki Haley says the threat of North Korea means going to the Winter Olympics is an “open question.” Nathan Rousseau Smith (@FantasticMrNate) reports.
Buzz60

The White House sent mixed signals Thursday afternoon about whether or not the United States will participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a press briefing that, “no official decision has been made” but, “I know that the goal is to do so.”

Then, within the hour, Sanders posted an update to her Twitter account, writing in part that, “The U.S. looks forward to participating in the Winter Olympics in South Korea.”

Sanders’ remarks came less than 24 hours after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley appeared on Fox News and said it’s an “open question” as to whether U.S. Olympic athletes will compete in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February.

“What we will do is make sure that we are taking every precaution possible, to make sure that they are safe,” Haley said in the interview, in reference to escalating tensions with North Korea.

U.S. Olympic Committee spokesperson Mark Jones said in a statement that the organization has “not had any discussions, either internally or with our government partners, about the possibility of not taking teams to the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.”

While Sanders said in her press briefing that President Donald Trump would “weigh in” on the decision, it will ultimately fall to the Olympic committee. The USOC is not a government organization and does not receive federal funding, so the White House has no role in the decision on whether the U.S. sends a team to the Olympics.

In fact, when President Jimmy Carter called for the United States to boycott the 1980 Olympics in Moscow over the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, the USOC made the final call, voting to not send a team.

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Columnist Nancy Armour contributed to this report.

PHOTOS: 2018 Winter Olympic, Paralympic hopefuls

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