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A top official at the U.S. Olympic Committee said there's more work to be done when it comes to achieving a satisfactory level of diversity on Team USA.
“We’re not quite where we want to be,” said Jason Thompson, director of diversity and inclusion, according to Rick Maese of The Washington Post. “I think full-on inclusion has always been a priority of Team USA. I think everybody’s always felt it should represent every American.”
Of the 243 athletes set to compete in this year's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, 10 are African-American and 10 are Asian-American —- more than the number in previous years. There are also two openly gay men, one of whom has made news for his comments about Vice President Mike Pence.
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Still, there are concerns among officials that improvements could be made, perhaps in light of how, for instance, USA Hockey had 131 team members in 2016, none of whom were minorities. Maese writes:
The lack of diversity on the winter teams is certainly not a new issue, and it’s not unique to the United States. But the USOC has identified it as an area for targeted growth. Thompson was hired to his post in 2012, shortly after the job was created, because the USOC saw room for improvement at every level: from athletes and coaches to the officials who run the national governing bodies for each sport and executives who work for the USOC.
“[W]e've just been trying to find ways to make sure our team looks like America,” Thompson said.
The USOC and the governing bodies for each sport are required by law to submit a report to lawmakers every four years detailing the participation of minorities, as well as women and disabled individuals. Additionally, the USOC requires the governing bodies to fill out an annual “diversity scorecard,” as Maese describes it.
“We wanted to see what that diversity looks like, how we could measure it, track it,” Thompson said. “That has had an incredible impact. I think it means we’re being transparent with our fans, so people can see, No. 1, it’s a priority, and, No. 2, we’re being honest about it. In some areas, we got some work to do.”
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