More than three dozen Republican House members have penned a letter to the US Olympic Committee to express their concerns about American athletes holding political protests at the Summer Games in Tokyo — singling out hammer thrower Gwen Berry, who turned away as the national anthem was played during the national trials last month.
The 39 Republicans wrote to US Olympic and Paralympic Committee Chair Susanne Lyons and CEO Sarah Hirshland, urging them to comply with Rule 50 of the International Olympic Committee’s charter that prohibits political expression by athletes, Fox News reported on Thursday.
“We are deeply concerned by the growing trend of American athletes taking advantage of the international platform afforded by the Olympic games to perpetuate divisive, hateful and anti-American ideologies,” the letter signed by the 39 Republicans said.
Along with Berry, the GOP House members pointed out how BMX freestyle rider Chelsea Wolfe, who is an alternate at the games, has said she wanted to win in Tokyo so she could “burn a US flag on the podium.”
Wolfe, 28, made those comments in a now-deleted post on Facebook in March 2020.
She told Fox News that the posting doesn’t mean that she is anti-American.
“Anyone who thinks that I don’t care about the United States is sorely mistaken,” she said. “One of the reasons why I work so hard to represent the United States in international competition is to show the world that this country has morals and values, that it’s not all of the bad things that we’re known for.”
Berry turned away from the US flag when “The Star-Spangled Banner” played as she stood on the podium after winning a bronze medal at the Olympic trials in Oregon.
She moved to face the stands while holding up a shirt that read, “Activist Athlete.”
“I feel like it was a setup, and they did it on purpose,” Berry said of the anthem. “I was pissed, to be honest.”
In their letter, the Republicans noted that Rule 50 allows “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda.”
“It is our hope that members of the U.S. Olympic Team will stop abusing their platform to spout shameful anti-American rhetoric, and that all athletes representing the United States of America at the Olympic games this summer will do so proudly and patriotically,” they said in the letter.
Among those who signed the letter are Reps Dan Crenshaw of Texas, Jim Banks of Indiana, Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina and Lauren Boebert of Colorado.