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'Openly gay' Billie Jean King named in US delegation for Sochi closing ceremony

Sunday, 16 February 2014 - 12:50pm IST | Agency: ANI

American tennis legend and openly gay athlete Billie Jean King has reportedly been named as part of the presidential delegation to the closing ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Russia has faced widespread criticism over its position on gay rights since passing an anti-gay propaganda law last year, which bans anyone from speaking positively about homosexuality in the hearing of minors.

According to CNN, King, a 2009 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom- the highest US civilian honor, was initially named as part of the opening ceremony delegation but had to pull out because her mother was ill.

King had said that the decision to include openly gay people in the presidential delegation to Sochi was perhaps a statement by the United States, adding that although she is not planning to protest or demonstrate, she is concerned with the treatment of the LGBT community in Russia and wants them to know that they are not alone.

King also said that she hopes people realise this is not only a gay rights issue, but a global concern for human rights and equality, adding that these Olympics will be a watershed moment for the universal acceptance of all people.

The closing ceremony takes place on February 23 and President Barack Obama also named Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul to the delegation, as well as former gold medal Olympians Bonnie Blair and Eric Heider, the report added.

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