The White House defended this Monday the right to “protest” of the hammer thrower Gwen Berry , who avoided looking at the United States flag while the national anthem sounded this Saturday, just after qualifying to represent her country at the Tokyo Olympics.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said during her daily press conference that US President Joe Biden has “great respect for the American anthem” but respects the right of athletes to participate in protest actions.
“He would say that part of pride in our country means recognizing that there are times when we, as a country, have not lived up to our highest ideals, and that means that we must respect the constitutional right of the people to protest. peacefully, “added Psaki.
Berry generated controversy among the most conservative sectors of the country with his behavior during the medal ceremony of the United States Olympic trials, this Saturday in Eugene (Oregon).
Upon reaching the podium to receive the bronze medal, Berry turned and avoided facing the American flag; to finally take off a black T-shirt with the words “Activist Athlete” stamped on the front and put it on over his head.
The 31-year-old athlete later declared that she was puzzled by the fact that the anthem was being played at that time and that is why she reacted like this, although she stressed that the national song “does not speak” on her behalf .
Berry has made it clear that his mission goes beyond sports, and that he wants to “represent those” who “died due to systemic racism” in the United States , as many other athletes have done in his country.
The athlete will find it difficult to repeat such actions at the Tokyo Olympics, because the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said that it will enforce its Rule 50 , which prohibits demonstrations and acts of protest within the fields.
Biden’s stance towards Berry’s gesture contrasts with that held by former President Donald Trump (2017-2021), who harshly attacked the players who knelt during the anthem prior to the start of the games as a protest against the racial injustice in America.
The words of the now ex-president, who came to ask for the dismissal of athletes like Colin Kaepernick , were rejected by a large part of the players and owners of clubs in the NFL, the American football league, who stood out by emphasizing their right to freedom expression.
Trump’s attack on these athletes left its mark on conservative sectors such as Fox News, where numerous commentators have harshly criticized Berry’s actions .