SBD/January 6, 2014/Olympics

USOC's Scott Blackmun Sits For Q&A, Wants Focus On Games Rather Than Social Issues

Blackmun says the Olympics aren't an appropriate platform for political statements
USOC CEO Scott Blackmun in a Q&A this weekend with David Ramsey of the Colorado Springs GAZETTE "declined to dodge questions," and despite being a graduate of Stanford law school, "seldom turned to lawyer-speak." Blackmun "spoke freely and frankly," as he is "savoring and enjoying a job he awaited for nearly a decade." Below are excerpts from the conversation. 

Q: Is President Obama offering a statement about American ideals by not making the trip?
Blackmun: I think you'll have to ask him that. It certainly appears that way and candidly we are a diverse nation and we believe that this diversity is what makes us strong and so we've had a tough time dealing with this issue ourselves because we very much believe in diversity and don't agree with the law in Russia but, importantly, we really respect that the games are all about not focusing on the differences between countries but instead focusing purely on sport. 

Q: Your thoughts on Billie Jean King's role as a U.S. delegate?
Blackmun: She is an advocate. She has done a lot of really good things. 

Q: King recently was quoted as saying, "Sometimes I think we need a John Carlos moment." Do you agree with King's view?
Blackmun: You know, no. I don't agree with that particular statement because, again, if you believe in what the Olympic movement is supposed to be about, which is bringing people together for competition and not to focus on the differences then we should honor that because that's what makes the Olympic movement and the Olympic Games strong, but you can't confuse that with the notion that we would like to see all forms of discrimination eliminated and we should all work hard in this country to make sure that happens. I just don't think that the Olympic Games are the appropriate platform for that because that steals the attention away from the athletes, their stories and their efforts to win a medal for their country. It should be about the athletes and what they are striving to be.

Q: How long do you plan to stay in this position?
Blackmun: I don't have any plans to leave. I still love what I do. I feel I have one of the best jobs in the world (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 1/5). 
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