SOCHI, Russia — Tennis great Billie Jean King arrived for today’s closing of the 2014 Winter Olympics with a message for Russia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community: Hang in, hang on, and you’re not alone.
“Having the Winter Olympics here, the situation here in Russia, has opened up dialogue,” King said Saturday.
“I’m always big on love over hate, and I think it’s important that everyone’s treated equally and good to each other. Hopefully, the LGBT community here in Russia knows that they’re not alone and we’ll learn from them.”
King, who is gay, is part of the official U.S. delegation that will witness the end of the 23-day international sports festival.
Her presence represents the United States’ objection to a so-called “anti-propaganda” law that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed last June.
The law, widely viewed as an anti-gay measure, prohibits individuals from promoting “homosexual behavior” and spreading “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” among minors.
President Barack Obama, along with several other world leaders, skipped the Winter Games’ opening ceremony to show their opposition to the law.
Obama also sent one of the lowest-level official U.S. delegations to Sochi for the opening ceremony, a contingent that included two gay former Olympians.
An annoyed International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach chastised heads of state and other world leaders who passed on Sochi and accused them of injecting politics into the games and onto the backs of athletes.
King said Saturday the separation of politics and sport is an unrealistic dream.