Crowd-pleasing Olympian Adam Rippon, who helped the U.S. figure-skating team bring home the bronze, announced on Sunday he will not join NBC as a sports correspondent for the remainder of the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
NBC spokesman Greg Hughes had originally told USA Today on Sunday that Rippon, 28, would contribute across the network’s platforms, including television, digital and social media, where Rippon’s tweets have provided lively commentary eliciting replies from screen and music stars.
But Rippon — who with skier Gus Kenworthy is one of the U.S. Olympic delegation’s only two openly gay male athletes — later spoke on NBCSN and said he had changed his mind.
“I am so flattered that NBC wanted me to work as a correspondent, but if I took this opportunity, I would have to leave the Olympic team and I would have to leave the [Olympic] village,” Rippon told the sports channel. “It’s so important to me, you know, I worked so hard to be on this Olympic team, and my teammates and my friends were there for me during my events, and that means so much to me, that I really feel like I need to be there for them during their events.”
Rippon, according to a USA Today report citing an anonymous source, said he realized he would have to relinquish his official status as an Olympic athlete, rescind his Olympic credential and move out of the Team USA facilities if he took the gig with NBC. He also would not have been able to march in the closing ceremony.
The upbeat and outspoken Rippon first garnered attention last month when he criticized Vice President Mike Pence for having signed into law, while governor of Indiana, a measure many felt legalized discrimination against LGBT individuals. The state, following nationwide criticism, passed an amendment a week later reinstituting protections.