Adam Rippon, an American figure skater who is openly gay, said Thursday he would be open to a conversation with Mike Pence and does not want his teammates to be distracted by his repeated criticism of the U.S. vice president's perceived anti-gay views.
"I don't want to distract from the competition or make this too much for my competitors and my teammates," Rippon told reporters after training at Gangneung Ice Arena.
"I am just focused on the competition -- the opening ceremony is tomorrow," said the 28-year-old.
"After the competition, I am open to meeting him and having an open conversation but I have been focused on the competition and waiting 28 years to be here," he said.
"It's my opportunity to show the world what I have got and represent my country the very best that I can."
Rippon slammed the White House last month for choosing Pence to lead the official U.S. delegation for Friday's opening ceremony and reportedly refused an invitation to meet with the 58-year-old.
"You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy?" Rippon told USA Today when informed he might be able to talk with Pence at the games in South Korea. "I'm not buying it."
Pence's website during his 2000 congressional run in Indiana reportedly stated his support for directing resources "toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior," leading Rippon to criticize him for his stance on so-called gay conversion therapy.
Pence on Wednesday night tweeted his support for Rippon following the repeated criticism.
The figure skating competition program begins Friday with the men's and pairs short programs in the team competition.
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