Figure skater Johnny Weir, one of the most recognizable openly gay athletes in the world, announced on NBC’s Today this morning that he is retiring from competitive skating.
The announcement comes after Weir missed the deadline to attempt to qualify for the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
Weir also announced that he’d be moving into a new role as a figure skating analyst for NBC, which has exclusive U.S. broadcast rights for the Olympics.
Weir, who is married to a Russian man, denounced Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law but argued for an American presence at the Games.
“I’m a gay American. I’ve married into a Russian family. I’ve been a longtime supporter of Russia, the culture, the country, the language, everything about Russia,” Weir said. “While this law is a terrible thing that you can’t be gay publicly in Russia, I plan to be there in full support of our brothers and sisters there and not be afraid.
“If I get arrested, I get arrested; if not, great, but our presence is needed. For all the Olympians that worked so hard, a boycott is just the worst thing that you could do to all these young people.”