United States Vice President Mike Pence has arrived in Pyeongchang, South Korea, to lead the official U.S. delegation at the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

As The Hill reports, Pence will be joined by the top U.S. general in South Korea, among other military and diplomatic officials. The delegation was put in place so that Pence has the ability to “push back against any positive media narrative the Winter Olympics creates for North Korea,” which it might use to distract from its “oppressive regime.”

Kim Min-Hee/Getty Images

A Pence aide told Axios, according to The Hill:

“The Vice President will remind the world that everything the North Koreans do at the Olympics is a charade to cover up the fact that they are the most tyrannical and oppressive regime on the planet.”

However, it is being reported that some Olympians were taken aback by the news that Vice President Pence would be leading the delegation. When openly gay U.S. Olympic figure Skater, Adam Rippon, was asked his thoughts in January, USA Today Sports reported that he said:

“You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy? I’m not buying it.”

According to USA Today Sports, when Pence caught wind of Rippon’s criticism, the vice president’s chief of staff Nick Ayers reportedly reached out the United States Olympic Committee’s CEO Scott Blackmun to assure him that Pence never supported gay conversion therapy or the policies that were designed to provide funding to such programs.

Ayers then reportedly told Blackmun that they were willing to set up a time for Pence to meet with Rippon in order to discuss “the confusion over Pence’s stance.”

USA Today Sports reporter Christine Brennen later claimed in her report that two sources with knowledge of the situation told her that Rippon turned down the opportunity to speak with Pence.

Adam Rippon/Instagram

Following Brennen’s report, Jarrod Agen, the vice president’s deputy chief of staff, went on record saying that “no effort was made by the Vice President’s office to set up a conversation,” USA Today Sports reports.

Pence confirmed Agen’s statement by calling Brennen’s report “fake news” on Twitter:

He wrote:

Headed to the Olympics to cheer on #TeamUSA. One reporter trying to distort 18 yr old nonstory to sow seeds of division. We won’t let that happen! #FAKENEWS. Our athletes are the best in the world and we are for ALL of them! #TEAMUSA

Pence then tweeted directly at Rippon:

He said:

[Adam Rippon] I want you to know we are FOR YOU. Don’t let fake news distract you. I am proud of you and ALL OF OUR GREAT athletes and my only hope for you and all of #TeamUSA is to bring home the gold. Go get ‘em!

However, as soon as Pence tweeted out that the story was fake news, USA Today reported that an unnamed White House official told reporters who were traveling with Pence to South Korea that his “team did contact the U.S. Olympic Committee.”

Rippon has yet to reply to Pence’s tweets.

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