President Donald Trump hosted a White House ceremony on Friday intended to celebrate and praise American athletes who competed in the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Games in South Korea.
“What happened with the Paralympics was so incredible and so inspiring to me,” Trump said, referring to the games involving athletes with physical disabilities. “And I watched — it’s a little tough to watch too much ― but I watched as much as I could.”
Several high-profile American medalists boycotted the ceremony, including figure skater Adam Rippon, who said he would skip it because “I will not stand with people who discriminate against those that they perceive as different.”
Trump, whose own athletic record includes playing golf most weekends since he took office, was swiftly condemned for the insensitive comment.
“Record numbers around the world are not finding Paralympics tough to watch,” Paralympic Games said in a tweet. “We hope the U.S. President continues to watch and be inspired by the Paralympics.”
Trump’s “a little tough to watch” comment was meant to be a reference to his busy schedule, the New York Daily News reported, citing an unnamed “person familiar with the situation.”
But the president has shown disdain for people with disabilities in the past. During his presidential campaign, Trump openly mocked a disabled reporter on camera in front of millions of viewers. He later denied doing so, but here he is:
Last year, it was reported that Trump liked to mock the physical gestures and appearances of Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Trump cuts himself slack for his own physical disabilities, of course. He cited bone spurs to avoid military service, and was chauffeured through Sicily last year in a golf cart rather than walk with other G7 global leaders.