White House: 'No official decision has been made' on U.S. participation in Winter Olympics

Fourth-Place Medal
The 2018 Winter Olympics are slated to open in just over two months in Pyeongchang, South Korea. (AP)
The 2018 Winter Olympics are slated to open in just over two months in Pyeongchang, South Korea. (AP)

We are just 65 days away from the opening ceremonies for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, but United States officials are still undecided as to whether American athletes will take part.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters during her Thursday briefing that “no official decision has been made” on the U.S. sending its delegation to the Games.

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“No official decision has been made on that, and we’ll keep you guys posted as those decisions are made,” Sanders said. “I know the goal is to do so, but that’ll be a decision made closer to time.

“I think that’s an inter-agency process, but I think ultimately the president would certainly weigh in, but again, that’s something that he would take into account, a number of the stakeholders that would be involved.”

Sanders was asked the question after Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said on Wednesday that given the state of things on the Korean peninsula, America’s participation is an “open question.” 

After her briefing ended, Sanders attempted to clarify via Twitter, writing, “UPDATE: The U.S. looks forward to participating in the Winter Olympics in South Korea. The protection of Americans is our top priority and we are engaged with the South Koreans and other partner nations to secure the venues.”

Mark Jones, a spokesman for the U.S. Olympic Committee, tweeted on Thursday morning — after Haley’s comment but before Sanders’s — that there have been no discussions of the country not sending athletes to the Games.

The waffling, however slight, must be making NBC executives nervous. The broadcaster paid the International Olympic Committee a reported $963 million for the rights to air the 2018 Winter Olympics in the U.S. As familiar viewers know, NBC heavily skews its coverage toward American athletes and their stories, and the prospect of American athletes not being in Pyeongchang means their ratings would likely take a massive hit.

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