The International Olympic Committee (IOC) governs the ability of Olympic athletes’ political activism under “Rule 50.” After recent backlash, the rule was reviewed and adjusted. Some say it’s not enough — but the revision seems to have set the stage for some political strife at the Olympic games.
Rule 50 has long governed use of the Olympic games as a platform for political speech, according to The Associated Press. The IOC still wanted to enforce rule 50, but eventually opted for changes allowing athletes to send political messages and protest — as long as it was before the competition. Politics are not new to the Olympics, though. Here’s a roundup of the dumbest woke Olympic stunts from recent history. (RELATED: Wokeism Is Coming For The Olympics Next)
Chelsea Wolfe, a transgender woman competing for the United States in the freestyle BMX event, previously claimed she is hoping to win so that she can burn the American flag on the medal podium.
“My goal is to win the Olympics so I can burn a US flag on the podium. This is what they focus on during a pandemic. Hurting trans children,” Wolfe wrote in a March Facebook post that has since been deleted, referring to new laws pertaining the regulation of hormone treatments and surgical transitions for children across the country.
“My goal is to win the Olympics so I can burn a US flag on the podium.” Chelsea Wolfe https://t.co/3sI1j2O7Su
“Find the good. It’s all around you. Find it, showcase it and you’ll start believing it.” Jesse Owens https://t.co/pop5e4w69c
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) June 21, 2021
However, Wolfe claimed that anyone who interpreted her comments to mean that she does not care about the United States are “sorely mistaken,” according to Fox News.
“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,” Wolfe told Fox News in an interview. “I take a stand against fascism because I care about this country and I’m not going to let it fall into the hands of fascists after so many people have fought and sacrificed to prevent fascism from taking hold abroad.”
Wolfe’s biography page claims that the 28-year-old biker started racing at the age of 6 and began doing so competitively in 2014, but makes no mention of her transition. Wolfe announced she would be competing in the Tokyo Olympics on Instagram with this social media post:
View this post on Instagram
Gwen Berry is a hammer thrower for the United States’ track and field team. During the U.S. Olympic track and Field trials, the 31-year-old placed third in order to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
When the national anthem began to play unexpectedly while Berry was on the podium, she turned away from the American flag, put her hand on her hip and started shuffling her feet, according to ESPN. Near the end of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” Berry put a shirt that said “Activist Athlete” over the top of her head.
“I feel like it was a set-up, and they did it on purpose,” Berry complained. Apparently, there was a five-minute delay that caused the anthem and the podium ceremony for hammer throwers to coincide. “I was pissed, to be honest.”
However, a spokeswoman for USA Track and Field said it was a coincidence.
“The national anthem was scheduled to play at 5:20 p.m. today,” said Susan Hazzard, spokeswoman for USA Track and Field. “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.”
On the day Berry was on the podium, the music reportedly started at 5:25 p.m.
“I really don’t want to talk about the anthem because that’s not important. The anthem doesn’t speak for me. It never has,” Berry said. She also posted a picture of her turning away from the American flag on her social media with the caption, “Stop playing with me.”
Stop playing with me pic.twitter.com/WLN3clqOCM
— Gwen Berry OLY (@MzBerryThrows) June 27, 2021
Berry swore to use her platform at the Olympic games to raise awareness about social justice in the United States, according to The Hill. She was previously placed on a 12-month probation after she protested the national anthem at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, by putting her fist in the air and her head down while the anthem played, The Washington Post reported.
Fencer Race Imboden also received 12 months of probation for a political stunt he pulled at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. After the U.S. men’s foil team won gold, Imboden took a knee on the podium while the national anthem played, according to The Washington Post.
I’ve been receiving one message a lot since the protest and I thought I would officially reply.
I accept all invitations to the cookout. ♥️
— Race Imboden (@Race_Imboden) August 19, 2019
“Race didn’t adhere to the commitment he made to the organizing committee and the USOPC,” a United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) spokesman told the Post.
Noah Lyles, an athlete representing the United States in the Tokyo games and the reigning world champion in the 200-meter dash, wore a black glove and raised his fist during the U.S. Olympic trials. The gesture was in reference to the protest of former U.S. track Olympians John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, according to The New York Times.
The pair raised their fists wearing black gloves on the medal podium to protest the treatment of black Americans in the U.S. in the wake of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, according to USA Today. Because the pair violated rule 50, they were sent home. Lyles gesture seemed to mean that the mistreatment of black Americans today is comparable to that of 1968.
“Everybody knows what my views are toward social justice,” Lyles said at the U.S. Olympic trials, according to The New York Times. “I can’t do everything by myself, but I can make sure everybody knows what I think, and if they want to have conversations and say, ‘Hey, that isn’t right,’ that’s when we get together and get this changed. That’s what I’m here for. I’m here to get the conversation moving and press the agenda forward.”