It’s official. Vice President Joe Biden will head the U.S. Delegation to the Opening Ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics. I have known the Vice President for a long time and I can tell you — he loves sports. He was a great football and baseball player when he was younger. He is an outstanding golfer these days. The Vice President will be coming with his wife, Dr. Jill Biden.
Also in the delegation is Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama. I have known Valerie since the days 30 years ago when we were both associates at my former law firm in Chicago.
The Opening Ceremonies Delegation will have its share of U.S. stars from past Winter Olympics. Peggy Fleming, the 1968 gold medal figure skater, will join us along with Mike Eruzione, the captain of the 1980 US gold medal hockey team that beat the Soviets in the famous Miracle on Ice game, and Vonetta Flowers, the 2002 gold medalist in women’s bobsledding and the first black athlete to win gold at the Winter Olympics.
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will head the delegation to the Closing Ceremonies. She will be joined by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius as well as UN Ambassador Susan Rice (whose husband is from British Columbia). The Closing Ceremonies Delegation will also include Peter Axelson, an Air Force veteran and World Champion Mono Skier; Bonnie Blair, who has 6 Olympic medals including 5 golds; Manny Guerra, the 2002 Paralympics gold medalist in Sledge Hockey; and Kristi Yamaguchi, the 1992 gold medalist in Figure Skating.
The Delegation to the Paralympics Opening Ceremony will be headed by the Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs, Gen. Eric Shinseki. That delegation will also include Lisa Jackson, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; my friend and former White House colleague, Kareem Dale, the Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy; Jim Martinson, a Vietnam Veteran and 1992 Paralympic gold medalist in Downhill Skiing; Mike May the 1984 Paralympic bronze medalist in Alpine Skiing; Bonnie St. John the 1984 Paralympic medalist in Slalom and Giant Slalom; and Melissa Stockwell, Iraq War veteran and 2008 Summer Paralympic athlete.
I have to say it’s really personally important to me to attend these Olympics. Not just to support Team USA and cheer on our athletes but to share in this moment with Canadians. To celebrate the Canadian effort and enthusiasm that went into planning and executing the Games and to have fun together. Our countries are linked in so many ways and the Olympics only serves to remind me how close we truly are. I imagine I’ll learn a thing or two from my Canadian friends about winter sports too!
I am excited to be a part of all three delegations. Julie and I are getting Olympic fever. We’re going over the schedule of events. Making our packing lists. Ten more days until the Opening Ceremonies!