A pair of American athletes may face “consequences” after staging podium protests at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, over the weekend, ESPN reported.
Fencer Race Imboden, a two-time Olympian, took a knee as the rest of his men’s foil team stood Friday after winning gold medals, the outlet said. Imboden’s actions reflected those of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the trend of taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest police brutality and injustice toward minorities.
Imboden, 26, tweeted a photo of himself taking a knee and wrote that President Donald Trump “spreads hate.”
“We must call for change,” Imboden wrote in his post and in a follow-up tweet. “This week I am honored to represent Team USA at the Pan Am Games, taking home Gold and Bronze. My pride however has been cut short by the multiple shortcomings of the country I hold so dear to my heart. Racism, Gun Control, mistreatment of immigrants,and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list. I chose to [sacrifice] my moment today at the top of the podium to call attention to issues that I believe need to be addressed. I encourage others to please use your platforms for empowerment and change.”
Hammer thrower Gwen Berry raised a right fist and bowed her head Saturday during the national anthem after her gold-medal win, ESPN said.
Berry, 30, told U.S. media outlets her action was meant to point out “extreme injustice,” Yahoo Sports reported — and it matched the iconic gestures of American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics.
The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee prohibits athletes from making political, religious or racial demonstrations during events on the Olympic circuit, ESPN said.
“Every athlete competing at the 2019 Pan American Games commits to terms of eligibility, including to refrain from demonstrations that are political in nature,” USOPC vice president of communications Mark Jones said in a statement to the outlet. “In these cases, the athletes didn’t adhere to the commitment they made to the organizing committee and the USOPC. We respect their rights to express their viewpoints, but we are disappointed that they chose not to honor their commitment. Our leadership are reviewing what consequences may result.”
Olympic legend Carl Lewis bashes Trump, too
U.S. Olympic legend Carl Lewis — who attended the Pan Am Games at the invitation of Lima organizers — had a few things to say as well, Yahoo Sports reported.
“We have a president who is racist and a misogynist, who doesn’t value anybody but himself,” said Lewis — a dominant sprinter and long jumper — when asked about equal pay in athletics, according to the outlet. “My mother was a pioneer. My parents were teachers and they taught us that everyone deserves the same opportunities. Of course I’m for (equal pay) in athletics. We shouldn’t even be talking about it.”