TAMPA (WFLA) – Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw of Texas called for hammer thrower Gwen Berry to be removed from Team USA after she turned away from the American flag as the national anthem was playing.
She did not face the flag or place her hand over her heart as she stood on the podium, unlike the gold and silver medalists, and then held up a T-shirt that said “Activist Athlete” and draped it over her head.
Crenshaw during an appearance on Fox and Friends on Monday argued that supporting the country they represent should be a “bare minimum requirement” for Olympic competitors.
“We don’t need any more activist athletes. She should be removed from the team. The entire point of the Olympic team is to represent the United States of America. That’s the entire point, OK,” Crenshaw said.
On Saturday, the song happened to start while Berry was standing on the podium after receiving her bronze medal in the hammer throw.
“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.”
“It’s one thing when the NBA does it. OK, we’ll just stop watching,” Crenshaw added. “But now the Olympic team? And it’s multiple cases of this. They should be removed. That should be the bare minimum requirement, is that you believe in the country you’re representing.”
Berry’s actions did not violate any official USOPC rules. The body informed athletes last December that athletes who peacefully protest or demonstrate at the Tokyo Olympics will not be punished.
“Prohibiting athletes to freely express their views during the Games, particularly those from historically underrepresented and minoritized groups, contributes to the dehumanization of athletes that is at odds with key Olympic and Paralympic values,” said the athlete statement that accompanied the recommendations.