CBC News - Wednesday Dec. 18, 2013 18:19 ET

Stephen Harper not attending Sochi Olympics

Canada’s official delegation expected once all athletes qualify

Prime Minister Stephen Harper will not be attending the Sochi Olympics in February. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
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Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office said Wednesday that Harper would not be heading to Russia for the Olympics in February.

"I can confirm that the prime minister will not be attending the Games. There will be an announcement in the coming weeks regarding who will represent or attend on behalf of the government of Canada," Harper's director of communications Jason MacDonald told CBC’s Meagan Fitzpatrick.

MacDonald added that it is common practice for the minister of sport and the Governor General to represent Canada at the Games, not the prime minister.

The news comes as U.S. President Barack Obama picked two gay athletes to be part of the U.S. delegation to the Sochi Olympics, and he won’t be attending the event himself, moves interpreted as a snub to Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

The White House announced the presidential delegation on Tuesday, and its members are raising eyebrows because of who it includes, and who it doesn’t.

The IOC previously said Moscow assured that athletes and spectators will not face discrimination at the Feb. 7 to 23 Winter Games.

Canada has not yet named its official delegation to the Sochi Olympics. It is expected to do so once all athletes have qualified some time in January.

This week, Vancouver said it plans to send Coun. Tim Stevenson, who is gay, to represent the city in Sochi. 

The decision to send Stevenson rather than Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson came after much debate. Stevenson told CBC that Vancouver wanted to take a strong stand being the previous host city.

Stevenson is introducing a motion next week that council urge the IOC to make Pride House a permanent fixture at future Olympic Games, and that LGBT rights be included in the Olympic charter — just as they are in the Paralympic charter.

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