Three fencers on the boys’s US Olympic group have been carrying pink masks after they arrived Friday in Tokyo for his or her opening match in opposition to Japan.
However the coordinated masks weren’t a coincidence; they have been a deliberate protest by the trio in opposition to a teammate who’s accused of sexual assault, sources near the group advised BuzzFeed Information.
Pictures shared on social media confirmed three of the 4 athletes on the boys’s épée group — Jake Hoyle, Curtis McDowald, and Yeisser Ramirez — carrying pink masks, whereas teammate Alen Hadzic — who’s underneath investigation for sexual assault — wore a black one.
“The disdain was clear,” one supply advised BuzzFeed Information.
“They determined to make an announcement that they weren’t standing for him being there,” stated one other fencing athlete not competing within the Tokyo Olympics. “They wished to make a distinction between themselves that they did not stand for sexual assault or abuse in opposition to girls. These athletes wished to have a voice the place US Fencing and SafeSport failed.”
Regardless of dealing with at the least three allegations of previous sexual misconduct, Hadzic was picked as an alternate on the boys’s épée group for the 2020 Olympics, inflicting dismay and outrage amongst Group USA fencers, as detailed in a BuzzFeed Information investigation.
His inclusion prompted six girls fencers, together with two Olympic athletes, to induce the Worldwide Olympic Committee to not enable him to symbolize the US; his presence, they stated, was a “direct affront” to fellow athletes and put them in danger.
“We’re gravely involved in regards to the affect Mr. Hadzic’s potential presence could have on different Group USA athletes,” the ladies wrote on Could 20.
Whereas the US Heart for SafeSport, the nonprofit company answerable for defending athletes from abuse, suspended Hadzic from the Olympics final month because of the investigation, he fought to get his prohibition lifted by an arbitration course of.
USA Fencing created a “security plan” to maintain Hadzic away from girls and out of the Olympic Village, which included him touring and staying individually from his teammates.
He was additionally forbidden from practising with girls teammates.
Hadzic has denied the allegations of sexual misconduct, telling USA At this time that “they’re untruths.” His lawyer, Michael Palma, advised the New York Occasions that his shopper had by no means dedicated any acts of sexual assault.
USA Fencing didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark in regards to the pink masks.
However the stunt earned reward from US fencer and 2016 Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad.
“Kudos to the group for taking a stand,” she tweeted on Friday.
Whereas Hadzic didn’t take part on Friday, the group misplaced to Japan and got here in ninth.