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Vice-President Biden slated to attend opening ceremony


He will head the U.S. delegation as Obama stays home


The White House is keeping its star player at home and sending its B-team to the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

The U.S. government announced Tuesday that Vice-President Joe Biden will head the American delegation to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

The brief statement means that President Barack Obama is giving the Winter Games a miss, an official at the U.S. consulate in Vancouver said.

"The president was in Ottawa last February and this year it's the vice-president's turn," the official added.

Biden and his wife, Jill, will lead the U.S. delegation to the opening ceremony of the Games. The delegation will include Valerie Jarrett, a close friend and senior adviser to the president, U.S. ambassador to Canada David Jacobson and several gold medallists, including Mike Eruzione, a member of the 1980 U.S. hockey team, and Peggy Fleming, a 1968 gold medallist in figure skating.

Biden will stay in Vancouver for only a few days while other delegation members may stay longer, said the U.S. Consulate official.

Ambassador Jacobson said in his blog that Biden is a sports fan. "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, and he is an outstanding golfer these days."

Jacobson added that "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."

The ambassador added, "I imagine I'll learn a thing or two from my Canadian friends about winter sports too."

A second U.S. delegation headed by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will attend the closing ceremony of the 2010 Games. Joining her will be Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and several former Olympic athletes, including Kristi Yamaguchi, the 1992 figure skating gold medallist, and Bonnie Blair, the five-time gold medallist in speed skating.

The U.S. delegation to the Paralympic Winter Games will be headed by Eric Shinseki, secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.


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