Chicago, IL —
Former Olympic gold medalist Peter Vidmar, who was chosen to lead the U.S. Olympic Team as the "chef de mission" at the 2012 games, has now stepped down
after a controversy over his anti-gay views.
Vidmar, 49, is a Mormon and was a financial supporter of California's Prop. 8 ban on gay marriage. He donated $2,000 to the anti-gay side.
Vidmar, who won two gold medals in gymnastics in 1984, said he never tried to hide his views. But the USOC claimed ignorance when the Chicago Tribune
pointed it out them out a little more than a week ago. But for a while, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun stood behind him.
"We respect Peter's right to religious freedom, and we understand and respect the fact that many Americans do not share his views," Blackmun said.
Openly gay figure skater Johnny Weir told the Tribune he was appalled.
"Most people would have an issue if the chef (de mission) publicly was against Asian-Americans or African-Americans, so it should be dealt with if the chef is anti-gay," Weir said.
So, Vidmar resigned and released this statement:
"I wish that my personal religious beliefs would not have become a distraction from the amazing things that are happening in the Olympic movement in the United States. I simply cannot have my presence become a detriment to the U.S. Olympic family. I hope that by stepping aside, the athletes and their stories will rightly take center stage."