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DeFrantz’s message to athletes: concentrate on performing.
"The one thing that can crush the games is it becomes an opinion-fest," she said. "That’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to celebrate human excellence. You’re here to compete. Take your chance now to do that thing you’ve worked so hard at."
The IOC has been criticized for not doing more to oppose the Russian law, but DeFrantz said the games themselves can make a point.
"We can show them what mutual respect and fair play looks like and hope that they understand," she said. "It’s sad we’re at this point in the history of humanity, but four years ago where was the U.S.? I’m glad that we’ve moved forward and I hope likewise the games will show that it’s a good thing to respect everybody."
DeFrantz is also turning her attention toward a possible U.S. bid for the 2024 Olympics. The U.S. hasn’t hosted the Summer Games since 1996 in Atlanta. New York and Chicago mounted failed bids for the Olympics of 2012 and 2016, respectively.
"I do believe now is the right time for us to be in," she said, citing the continued financial support for the Olympics from U.S. sponsors and television networks.
The USOC has said it will decide by the end of the year whether to submit a candidate city for 2024. After years of strained relations over money and other issues, the USOC and IOC have mended fences in recent years.
Having a U.S. voice at the top table of the IOC can only help a potential bid.
"I have a great deal of knowledge over the years that I’ve amassed," DeFrantz said. "I think it’d be helpful to share what I know and what I understand of my own nation and how it operates. There’s always misconceptions.
"I have some strong opinions about things. I understand people won’t always agree with me, but at least I can get a fair hearing and contribute to the discussion."
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