It appears more US athletes are preparing to "protest" the American flag, after last week transgender BMX Freestyle rider Chelsea Wolfe made headlines for expressing a desire to "burn a US flag" on the Olympic podium.
There's been yet another attention-grabbing display, this time at the ongoing US Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon. Hammer throw medalist Gwen Berry was on the podium when the national anthem came on over stadium loudspeakers - as it had every night throughout the trials. Just after receiving the bronze medal, she turned her back on the flag during the song and made clear she was opting out in protest.
"While the music played, Berry placed her left hand on her hip and shuffled her feet. She took a quarter turn, so she was facing the stands, not the flag," the AP wrote of the Saturday incident.
Additionally, "Toward the end, she plucked up her black T-shirt with the words 'Activist Athlete' emblazoned on the front, and draped it over her head." Similar to prior anthem protests, such as when Berry raised a fist during its playing at the 2019 Pan Am Games, she says she's standing against "systematic racism".
Though she was clearly ready with the T-shirt to show, she's blaming Olympic event organizers at the stadium for setting her up, who she claims were trying to provoke a reaction...
"I feel like it was a set-up, and they did it on purpose," Berry said of the timing of the anthem. “I was pissed, to be honest."
Berry’s reaction to the "Star-Spangled Banner" took its fair share of the spotlight on a blazing-hot second-to-last day at trials that also featured some blazing-fast times.
Just saying...... pic.twitter.com/2Y6ajs0qgE— Celeste (@celesteluvstwtn) June 27, 2021
Organizers have said that contrary to her claims, they've been playing the national anthem every evening just after 5pm.
They said it just so happened that the hammer throw medal ceremony had concluded at that moment.
Hammer thrower Gwen Berry turned away from the American flag during the playing of the national anthem at the U.S. Olympic Trials.— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) June 27, 2021
Berry, a vocal activist, said she felt like the timing of the anthem Saturday was a “set-up.”
More: https://t.co/KIMwOLYjkY pic.twitter.com/wxAGMQe8vS
Given she qualified for the Tokyo Games, more such spectacles of "activism" are likely set for the Olympics, especially should she make it to the podium there. And there's probably more to come among other athletes as well.