If you had the opportunity to fly to South Korea and sit in the stands at the 2018 Winter Olympics, your decision would probably be a no-brainer. If the leader of an Olympics organizing committee announced to the world that he'd be happy to have you there, you'd most likely have a hard time saying no. That's the unbelievable position the United States' first lady is in right now. If she wanted, Melania Trump could have participated in the Olympics by joining the presidential delegation.
Back in November, PyeongChang Organizing Committee President and CEO Lee Hee-beom, said he'd love to have "high-level people" taking part in the delegation representing the United States. And he didn't mention the U.S. president. He was more interested in two other people.
It would be an honor for us to have the First Lady and the First Daughter, Ivanka. Hopefully they can participate. It would very meaningful for us to have them.
Perhaps Melania's speech a few days prior had something to do with Lee's request. The first lady visited visited Seoul on Nov. 7 to help draw attention to the games, and speak about a new initiative called Girls Play 2. The campaign advocates for giving "boys and girls equal access to sports facilities, equipment and to coaches," the Washington Post reported she said. The speech took place during her and Donald Trump's tour of Asia.
Sport teaches children about teamwork, dedication, discipline, and how to succeed under pressure. When we assure girls and boys have equal access to sports we are ensuring they have an equal chance to gain these valuable skills. Girls Play 2 reminds people that girls love to play sport just as much as boys do.
Girls want to play basketball and hockey, and snowboard and ski. Some girls want to become Olympians and many girls simply want to be active and enjoy sport for the fun of it ... As we look forward to the Olympics, I call on all of us to encourage even more girls to play sports.
Ultimately, Melania wasn't chosen to lead the U.S. delegation in PyeongChang. Instead, Ivanka will be leading the presidential delegation at the closing ceremony. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, will lead the delegation at the Opening Ceremony.
Though Ivanka skipped out on Melania's speech in Seoul, it looks like she'll make it to South Korea after all. As part of the delegation, she and the Pences won't just be cheering on the U.S. athletes. They'll be there to discuss the North Korea threat, as well. As Pence's Deputy Chief of Staff, Jarrod Agen, said in a statement posted to the White House's website,
The Vice President is traveling to the Olympic Games in South Korea to reinforce the strong U.S. presence on the Korean Peninsula and send a clear message of American resolve to the North Korean regime. The Vice President will reaffirm to the leaders of Japan and South Korea the United States’ unwavering commitment to our allies and to deter and defend against the North Korean threat. In addition to showing support for our U.S. athletes, the Vice President will show his confidence in and appreciation for our U.S. military stationed in the region.
The location of the games, less than 50 miles away from the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, makes the North's nuclear aggression the unavoidable elephant in the room. And that could have played a big role in why the White House chose Pence to lead the delegation instead of a less political figure like Melania.