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US Olympian Receives Harsh Backlash After National Anthem Protest

by : Hannah Smith on : 28 Jun 2021 18:34
US Olympian Receives Harsh Backlash After National Anthem ProtestPA Images

A US Congressman has called for an Olympic athlete to be banned from the team after Gwen Berry turned her back on the American flag during the national anthem.

Berry was on the podium for the hammer throw medal ceremony at the US Olympic trials on Saturday, June 26, when she turned away in protest, and while many praised her stance, others criticised her for supposedly ‘disrespecting’ the flag.

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During an appearance on Fox & Friends, Republican congressman Dan Crenshaw blasted Berry for her protest, calling on her to be barred from competing for the US at the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo.

‘We don’t need any more activist athletes… she should be removed from the team. The entire point of the team is to represent the United States of America,’ he said.

Despite appearing to solve his own problem by saying he would usually ‘just stop watching’ when athletes protest, Crenshaw went on to say that protesting at the Olympics was taking things a step too far.

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‘But now the Olympic team?’ he said, ‘and it’s multiple cases of this. They should be removed.’

The Texas representative added that ‘believing’ in the US flag should be a ‘bare minimum requirement’ for athletes, Newsweek reports.

Crenshaw also appeared to link ongoing protests against systemic racism in the United States with the current Republican obsession with banning critical race theory from being taught in schools, saying ‘it results in these displays of hatred towards our own country and it’s gotta stop’.

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Also among the usual suspects going after Berry following her protest was Senator Ted Cruz, who tweeted on Sunday, ‘why does the Left hate America?’

Berry has since clarified her position, writing, ‘I never said I hated this country! People try to put words in my mouth but they can’t. That’s why I speak out. I LOVE MY PEOPLE.’

The hammer throw champion has a long-standing history of protesting at events, having previously been banned from competing for a year after raising a Black Power salute while receiving a gold medal at the 2019 Pan American Games.

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Following her protest on Saturday, Berry said she felt she had been ‘set-up’ by the event’s organisers, with the Star Spangled Banner not having been played during other medal ceremonies.

A USA Track and Field spokeswoman said, ‘We didn’t wait until the athletes were on the podium for the hammer throw awards. The national anthem is played every day according to a previously published schedule,’ however it’s since been pointed out that the anthem was played five minutes later than scheduled.

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Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith is a London-based journalist at UNILAD. After studying History at UCL she worked for print publications on both sides of the pond, including spells at Harper's Magazine and The Times, before graduating with an MA in Newspaper Journalism from City, University of London.

Topics: News, national anthem, Now, Olympics, Protest, Ted Cruz, US Politics

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Newsweek
  1. Newsweek

    Dan Crenshaw Calls for Gwen Berry's Removal From U.S. Olympic Team After Flag Protest