GOP legislators including Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., called on the U.S. Olympic team to remove hammer thrower Gwen Berry after she turned her back at the American flag during the national anthem, according to the New York Post.
“We don’t need any more ‘activist athletes,'” Crenshaw said voicing concern over Berry’s actions in an interview on Fox News. “She should be removed from the team. You know, the entire point of the Olympic team is to represent the United States of America. That’s the entire point, okay?”
Crenshaw added, “That should be the bare minimum requirement, is that you believe in the country you’re representing.”
Similarly, Cotton said he “doesn’t think it’s too much” to ask to have pride in the United States when representing the country on the world’s most prestigious athletic competition.
“I don’t think it’s too much, when athletes are competing to wear the Stars and Stripes — to compete under the Stars and Stripes in the Olympics — for them to simply honor that flag and our anthem on the medal stand,” Cotton told Fox News Primetime. “If Ms. Berry is so embarrassed by America, then there’s no reason she needs to compete for our country. She should be removed from the Olympic team.”
After placing third, but still qualifying for the Olympics, Berry was the only qualifier who turned away from the American flag, while the national anthem played in protest. Berry then held up a black t-shirt that read, “Activist Athlete.” Berry claimed that she was not aware that “The Star-Spangled Banner” was going to be played during the medal ceremony and insists that her reactions were not planned, according to Forbes.
“I feel like it was a set up. I feel like they did that on purpose, and I was pissed, to be honest,” Berry said referring to the national anthem being played.
USA Track and Field spokeswomen Susan Hazzard said, “The national anthem was scheduled to play at 5:20 p.m. today. 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,” the Associated Press reported.
Forbes further reported that Berry was previously reprimanded by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), for her protest and was placed “on probation for a year, during which she was banned from any form of protest.”
When asked for comment on Gwen Berry, White House ress secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Joe Biden “has great respect for the anthem and all that it represents … he would also say, of course, that part of that pride in our country means recognizing there are moments where we, as a country, haven’t lived up to our highest ideals, and it means respecting the right of people, granted to them in the Constitution, to peacefully protest,” reported by the New York Post.