Athletes are told not to exercise demonstrations “that are political in nature.”
Colin Kaepernick‘s kneeling protest during the playing of the national anthem has been widely reported since he began the movement back in 2016, but for the first time, the sport of fencing has become center stage for the controversial move. During the Pan American Games in Peru last Friday, U.S. Olympic Fencer Race Imboden stood on the podium and decided to take a knee. The 26-year-old professional athlete later shared that he made the move in an effort to stand—or kneel—in solidarity with the faction of his fellow American sports stars who have used their platforms to evoke political and social change.
“This week I am honored to represent Team USA at the Pan Am Games, taking home Gold and Bronze,” Imboden wrote on Instagram. “My pride however has been cut short by the multiple shortcomings of the country I hold so dear to my heart. Racism, lack of Gun Control, mistreatment of immigrants, and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list. I chose to sacrifice my moment today at the top of the podium to call attention to issues that I believe need to be addressed and changes. I encourage others to please use your platforms for empowerment and change.”
According to The Associated Press, Imboden could face disciplinary action by the USOPC, or the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Mark Jones, Vice President of Communication, USOPC, said in a statement that while they recognize Imboden’s viewpoints, his kneeling went against the pledge he made to the committee.
“Every athlete competing at the 2019 Pan American Games commits to terms of eligibility, including to refrain from demonstrations that are political in nature,” Jones stated. “In this case, Race didn’t adhere to the commitment he made to the organizing committee and the USOPC. We respect his rights to express his viewpoints, but we are disappointed that he chose not to honor his commitment. Our leadership are reviewing what consequences may result.”