Ivanka Trump led the U.S. delegation at the Winter Olympics closing ceremony in PyeongChang, South Korea, on Sunday amid a three-day visit to the country
Ivanka Trump led the U.S. delegation at the 2018 Winter Olympics closing ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Sunday amid a three-day visit to the country — but not everyone was pleased by her appearance.
The U.S. delegation also included White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, GOP Sen. James Risch of Idaho, Marc Knapper from the U.S. embassy in Seoul, and members of the military.
She was spotted sitting near President Moon- Jae-in in the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium Sunday.
Vice President Mike Pence attended the Olympics opening ceremony, which did not sit well with the Winter Games’ first two openly gay U.S. athletes: Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy. Rippon, a breakout star of the Games who is taking home a bronze medal as part of the figure skating team event, had said he did not want to meet with the vice president during the competition, due to the politician’s record on LGBT rights. Pence later tweeted his interest in meeting Rippon, while the athlete said he’s potentially open to a meeting with the politician after the Games.
Kenworthy, meanwhile, broke his thumb during the Games and joked that one upside to the injury is that he’ll be unable to shake Pence’s hand.
On Sunday, Kenworthy slammed Ivanka Trump for her appearance at the closing ceremony, tweeting “So proud of all these people! Everybody here has worked so hard to make it to the Olympics and have the opportunity to walk in the closing ceremony! Well… Everyone except Ivanka. Honestly, tf is she doing here??”
Kenworthy was spotted carrying Rippon on his shoulders during the closing ceremony.
Some were more positive about Trump’s presence, with Nate Weber of the U.S. men’s bobsled team writing, “Regardless of your politics you have to admit that it’s pretty cool when @IvankaTrump invites your kids to watch the #Olympics with her. It was an amazing experience for them. #teamusa.”
Prior to the closing ceremony, Trump spent time cheering on U.S. athletes at the Games. On Saturday, she shared an Instagram photo of herself at a speed skating event alongside female figure skaters Bradie Tennell and Karen Chen.
She also attended part of the bobsled competition and watched the U.S. men’s curling team win their first-ever gold medal.
“I’m so excited to be here. It’s just so incredibly inspiring. It’s been an amazing couple of days, and such an honor and privilege to be here with our allies in South Korea and celebrate all that we’ve accomplished as a culture, a society economically and, of course, in sport,” she told reporters in a short statement prior to the closing ceremony.
“Last night, we watched in at the men’s mass skate we saw the Korean take gold, so we were obviously very excited about that fact and obviously to be here and cheer on Team USA,” she continued.
“We also saw the Men’s team in curling take gold, also incredibly exciting and a great pleasure for us. It’s such a pleasure. We are excited to (have) another great day and a wonderful closing ceremony. So thank you all for the warm welcome and hospitality.”
Trump was asked by her father, President Donald Trump, to lead the delegation, an invitation she “eagerly accepted,” according to an administration official who spoke with reporters Wednesday.
“The president had made it clear that he wanted high-level delegations to go to the Winter Olympics to help cheer on the American athletes, show support for the US Olympic team and highlight the strength and support of our relationship with South Korea,” one of the officials said, according to CNN.
Another official added that Trump is a “winter sports enthusiast.”
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Upon her arrival to Seoul on Friday, Trump was greeted with a red-carpet welcome and later had dinner with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Presidential Blue House.
“It’s a great honor to be here in South Korea with the US delegation. We are very, very excited to attend the 2018 Winter Olympic Games to cheer for Team USA and to reaffirm our strong and enduring commitment with the people of the Republic of Korea,” Trump told reporters upon her arrival at the airport. “Thank you for the kind welcome. We are excited to be here and looking forward to several wonderful days.”
The trip did include some politics, however. According to ABC News and other outlets, she also said she wanted to reaffirm the partnership between the U.S. and South Korea and the “maximum pressure campaign to ensure that the Korean Peninsula is denuclearized.”