COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The announcement that the U.S. presidential delegation will not attend the 2014 Sochi Paralympics later this week does not mean American athletes will not compete.
"Today we were advised of the decision to not send a presidential delegation to the Paralympic Winter Games. As a sports organization, we will continue to fully support the amazing men and women that comprise Team USA at the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, and we encourage all Americans to support our athletes by watching them compete on NBC, NBCSN (NBC Sports Network) and on TeamUSA.org," U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Patrick Sandusky said.
The USOC is based in downtown Colorado Springs. The U.S. government move was made to protest the recent Russian military intervention into nearby Ukraine.
"In addition to other measures we are taking in response to the situation in Ukraine, the United States will no longer send a presidential delegation to the upcoming Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi," White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement Monday. "President Obama continues to strongly support all of the U.S. athletes who will participate in the Paralympics and wishes them great success in the Olympic competition."
British government officials will also boycott the Paralympics, according to a New York Times article. Their athletes will compete.
There is no official connection between the presidential delegation and Team USA's athletes and support staff, who are in Sochi or en route. The games start Friday and run through March 16.
There is no word of any plans to remove support staff or athletes.
"The safety and security of Team USA is our top priority," Sandusky said.
"As is always the case, we are working with the U.S. Department of State, the local organizers and the relevant law enforcement agencies in an effort to ensure that our delegation and other Americans traveling to Sochi are safe."
This is the first time Russia is hosting the Paralympics, which brings in 700 athletes from 44 countries. Many of the facilities used for the Sochi Olympics will be utilized.
The U.S. delegation, announced Feb. 6, would have included Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., administration officials, and U.S. three-time Paralympian bronze medalist Sandra Dukat.
The U.S. and 64 other nations boycotted the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics after a Soviet-led invasion of Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, a men's soccer game between the U.S. and Ukraine on Wednesday in Cyprus was canceled and then reinstated. A Ukraine team is scheduled to compete in the freestyle Wrestling World Cup in Los Angeles on March 15-16.