President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaFormer Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' Amanda Gorman captures national interest after inauguration performance Riding to the rescue on climate, the Biden administration needs powerful partners MORE defended San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has refused to stand during the national anthem. 

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“My understanding at least, is he’s exercising his constitutional right to make a statement. I think there’s a long history of sports figures doing so,” Obama said Monday during a news conference in Hangzhou, China, following the end of the G-20 summit there. 

Kaepernick recently created a firestorm when he said he was not going to “stand up and show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” 

Republican nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpIran's leader vows 'revenge,' posting an image resembling Trump Former Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' Justice Dept. to probe sudden departure of US attorney in Atlanta after Trump criticism MORE said “maybe he should find a country that works better for him.” 

A police union also threatened to stop staffing the 49ers football games if the team doesn’t take action against Kaepernick. 

“As a general matter, when it comes to the flag, and the National Anthem and the meaning that that holds for our men and women in uniform and those that fought for us – that is a tough thing for them to get past, to then hear what his deeper concerns are,” Obama added.

“But I don’t doubt his sincerity. I think he cares about some real, legitimate issues that need to be talked about and, if nothing else, what he’s done is generated more conversation about some topics that need to be talked about.”