Winter Olympians head to White House, with notable absences

Olympians who represented the United States in PyeongChang are headed to Washington, D.C. and the White House this week, but some of the best-known names from the 2018 Winter Olympics won’t be in attendance.

Gus Kenworthy, Chloe Kim, Mirai Nagasu, Adam Rippon, Mikaela Shiffrin, Lindsey Vonn and Shaun White will not be visiting the White House for various reasons, but many others, including the women’s hockey team and the men’s curling team, will be in attendance. In all, about 200 Winter Olympians and Paralympians, roughly two-thirds of Team USA’s total, will participate in the festivities honoring the U.S. athletes.

While Kenworthy and Vonn long ago made their stances against the current administration public, not every absence is a political statement. Kim and White said they are attending weddings, while Nagasu and others are preparing for “Dancing With The Stars.” Many of the skaters are on a nationwide tour.

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Winter Olympians who are not visiting the White House
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Winter Olympians who are not visiting the White House
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 14: Shaun White of United States celebrates after winning the Men's Halfpipe Final at Phoenix Snow Park on February 14, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA -FEBRUARY 22: Silver medalist Mikaela Shiffrin #19 of the United States on the podium after the Alpine Skiing - Ladies' Alpine Combined Slalom at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 22, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
USA's Mirai Nagasu competes in the women's single skating free skating of the figure skating event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 23, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 13: Gold medalist Chloe Kim #1 of the United States celebrates her gold medal win during the Snowboard - Ladies' Halfpipe competition at Phoenix Snow Park on February 13, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01: skier Gus Kenworthy speaks during the 100 Days Out 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics Celebration - Team USA in Times Square on November 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for USOC)
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA -FEBRUARY 21: Bronze medal winner Lindsey Vonn #7 of the United States with the United States flag during presentations after the Alpine Skiing - Ladies' Downhill race at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 21, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA FEBRUARY 17, 2018: Figure skater Adam Rippon of the United States reacts after performing during the men's free skating event at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, at the Gangneung Ice Arena. Valery Sharifulin/TASS (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
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A visit to the White House was once a standard rite of passage for winning teams, a check-the-box stop where stars would present the president with a customized jersey, pose for photos, and everyone would go about their day. But in the era of Trump, where every decision (and, for that matter, non-decision) carries symbolic weight, a White House visit has become a political statement.

While teams such as the New England Patriots, the Houston Astros, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Alabama Crimson Tide have visited the White House largely without incident, President Trump angrily withdrew an invitation to the Golden State Warriors after Steph Curry criticized the president’s policies. The Warriors instead visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture with local school groups. The Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles have not yet committed to visiting the White House.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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