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OLYMPIC NOTEBOOK

Worried about his safety, Johnny Weir is staying with athletes

Enjoy an up close and personal look at the action in Canada.

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By from news services
Sunday, February 14, 2010

Johnny Weir is staying at the Olympic village because he was concerned about his safety after receiving what he considers "very serious threats" from anti-fur activists.

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The American talked about staying in a hotel because he didn't enjoy his experience in the Olympic village four years ago. But security has become his main concern.

"I felt very threatened," he said Saturday. "I'm not allowed to say how everything got through, but my agent got letters and faxes and e-mails. I got letters at the ice rink, somebody found my phone number.

"All these crazy fur people. Security-wise, to stay in a hotel would be very difficult. There have been threats against me. I didn't want to get hurt."

Weir is sharing a two-bedroom suite with ice dancer Tanith Belbin, which made for some humorous by-play earlier in the week. But the three-time national champion wasn't in a joking mood Saturday about accommodations -- or about changing his costume for the free skate.

"I'm just an easy person to pick on because I like fur," he said. "It's easy to put your case against an athlete who is going to the Olympics. It's a very good, easy thing for these activists.

"It's a very scary thing. I'm a figure skater, I'm not some huge politician who gets these things all the time."

Weir drew the ire of animal-rights activists last month after he added white fox fur to the left shoulder of his costume for the free skate at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. After nationals, he said he would wear faux fur in Vancouver.

"It was not because I was pressured to change it, but because I don't like faux fur," Weir explained. "I didn't change the costume, I'm just switching back to another costume."

The men's short program is Tuesday and the free skate is Thursday.

Weir's career has stagnated since the 2006 Olympics, where he was second after the short program and then plummeted to fifth. He missed the bus to the rink for the free skate in Turin, which he admitted unnerved him.

So how might these threats affect Weir, who finished third at nationals to grab the final U.S. spot for the Olympics?


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