Recently American athlete Gwen Berry won the bronze medal in the woman’s hammer throw during the Olympic Trials, thus qualifying her for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
But it was time for her to stand on the podium with her fellow Americans DeAnna Price (who won the gold medal) and Brooke Anderson (who won the silver medal)- both of whom stood facing the American flag, Berry chose to turn her back and cover her face with a t-shirt that read “Activist Athlete” while the national anthem was playing.
Berry, who had been sanctioned by the U.S. Olympic Committee for raising her fist when the Star-Spangled Banner was being played at the 2019 Pan-Am Games, claims she was told the national anthem would be played before her and her fellow athletes would be taking the podium. Berry claimed she was being set up, even going so far as to say that the national anthem being played was disrespectful and that the national anthem had never spoken for her.
Berry went on to say that she was there to represent those who died due to systematic racism.
A spokesperson for USA Track and Field countered Berry’s claim by saying that the national anthem was scheduled to be played every day.
Meanwhile, Olympic athlete Chelsea Wolfe (who had qualified as an alternate for the Olympics in Tokyo) has said that her goal at the Olympics is to win a gold medal and burn the American flag on the podium.
Wolfe, a BMX Freestyle rider who identifies as a transgender woman, claimed that transgender children were being hurt because of the pandemic, and had even joked on social media last year about exploding Donald Trump’s head. She went on to say that she was taking a stand against fascism.
There are some factors that should be noted in regards to both situations:
- Berry was not set up, given the statement by the USA Track and Field spokesperson.
- When standing on the podium when the national anthem is being played, you respect that flag, especially since you are representing your country.
- If Berry is disappointed in her country, then she should not be pursuing her dreams of being in the Olympics.
- Systematic racism in America is a myth.
- America is not a fascist nation.
- Joking on social media about “exploding” the President’s head might result in you being investigated by the Secret Service.
- With Biden in the White House, one might think that both Berry and Wolfe would be focusing more on being athletes and less on being activists.
- It’s unlikely that flag-burning is allowed at the Olympics.
- An athletic event is no place for politics, no matter what the political climate is.
Bottom line: Keep politics out of the Olympics.