Elite Athletes Face Penalties for Staging Protest During Pan-Am Games -- Is That Right?

Elite Athletes Face Penalties for Staging Protest During Pan-Am Games -- Is That Right?970
source: Pixabay

Race Imboden, the US gold medalist fencer could get a penalty for taking a knee during the official award's ceremony at the Pan-Am Games Friday, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) announced.

The elite athlete explained his actions on Twitter, saying that he dropped on one knee as the US flag was raised in a political protest. In his view, we should all call for a change. 

The Tampa-born Imboden also mentioned that his success at the Pan-Am Games, where he took gold and bronze medals, was shadowed by the increasing trends of racism and hate across the United States.

In his tweet, Imboden said he chose to sacrifice his special moment on the podium to raise awareness. In addition to that, he also aimed to encourage the public to use their platforms to protest against social injustice in the United States.

The first US athlete who took a knee as a sign of protest was the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Back then, he wanted to express his disapproval of the police shootings of unarmed black men.

The 26-year-old Imboden was not alone in his protest during the Pan-Am Games. His colleague, the hammer thrower Gwen Berry, raised her fist in protest on the podium after she won the gold medal.

As the USOPC spokesman Mark Jones commented, both elite athletes contravened an agreement the whole US team signed stating they would not make remarks or engage in the propaganda of political, religious or racial character during the Pan-Am Games.

Jones also added that although the USOPC respected the personal right of Imboden and Berry to express their opinion, the committee was disappointed they chose to do it during the games. In conclusion, Jones said that USOPC management would review their attitude and the consequence it may bring.

It is still not yet confirmed what kind of discipline Imboden could face and whether it could impact his participation in Tokyo's Olympics next year.

The United States softball gold medalist Monica Abbott, who represented our country at two Olympics, was among the first ones to criticize her colleagues' attitude.

In her view, the Olympic and Pan American games were an opportunity for the athletes to put all the political and social differences aside and to bring people together. According to Abbott, the podium was hardly the best place for expressing political views and for staging protests. 

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the statement that the athletes should face penalties for protesting on the podium?