With the opening ceremonies for the 2018 Winter Olympics just three days away, the United States Olympic Committee worries the U.S. team is not diverse enough.
What’s going on?
The U.S. is sending the largest team ever to a Winter Games: 243 athletes. It’s the most diverse team the U.S. has ever sent to a Winter Games, but it still isn’t enough.
In all, only 10 members of this year’s team are black and 11 are Asian, according to USA Today. The team also includes the first two openly gay American athletes.
As the Washington Post noted, Team USA’s 2016 Summer Games contingent was much more diverse. That team included more than 550 athletes, 125 of which were black. Summer teams are typically much larger than their winter counterparts, but the Post emphasized the demographic difference is "staggering."
In 2016, 23 percent of Team USA was black while just 4 percent of this year’s team is black.
What did the U.S. Olympic Committee say?
Jason Thompson, the Olympic Committee’s director of diversity and inclusion, told the Washington Post the Olympic Committee is committed to ensuring Team USA is as diverse as possible.
"We’re not quite where we want to be. I think full-on inclusion has always been a priority of Team USA. I think everybody’s always felt it should represent every American,” he said.
Thompson was hired to his post in 2012 and has been working on making the entire U.S. Olympic team, from the front office to the athletes and coaches, more diverse.
He oversees a program that submits reports to Congress about the diversity of the USOC. They submit annual “diversity scorecards" to illustrate how each Olympic sport is growing to reflect American demographics.
Thompson told USA Today the diversification process takes time and Team USA is finally seeing results.
"We are not going to fix everything overnight but we are planting the seeds and we have been for some time. We are starting to see them grow,” he explained.
The opening ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, will take place 6-8 a.m. EST on Friday.