Story at a glance

  • Republican Sen. Tom Cotton said Monday that Olympic hammer thrower Gwen Berry should be booted from the U.S. team after Berry turned away from the flag at Olympic trials on Saturday.
  • “If Ms. Berry is so embarrassed by America, then there’s no reason she needs to compete for our country,” Cotton said.
  • Berry said she was shocked on Saturday when the "Star Spangled Banner" played as she took the podium to receive her third-place award, presumably off schedule.

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.) said Monday that Olympic hammer thrower Gwen Berry should be removed from the U.S. team if she is ashamed of America after Berry turned away from the flag at Olympic trials on Saturday. 

"I don’t think it’s too much, when athletes are competing to wear the Stars and Stripes — to compete under the Stars and Stripes in the Olympics — for them to simply honor that flag and our anthem on the medal stand," Cotton said on Fox News. "If Ms. Berry is so embarrassed by America, then there’s no reason' she needs to compete for our country. She should be removed from the Olympic team."

Berry said she was shocked on Saturday when the "Star Spangled Banner played presumably off schedule and at the moment she took the podium to receive her third-place award. The track and field star added that she felt like it was staged and that "they did it on purpose." 

"They said they were going to play it before we walked out, then they played it when we were out there," Berry continued, according to The Associated Press. "But I don’t really want to talk about the anthem because that’s not important. The anthem doesn’t speak for me. It never has."


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USA Track and Field spokeswoman Susan Hazzard maintained the anthem was not played as a slight to Berry and that the organization operated on schedule, although the anthem reportedly rang out five minutes behind previous evenings’ playings. 

"We didn’t wait until the athletes were on the podium for the hammer throw awards," Hazard said, according to The AP. "The national anthem is played every day according to a previously published schedule."

Berry’s protest sparked outcry from other Republican members of Congress Monday, including Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), who argued the "entire point" of an American Olympic team is for the members to represent the U.S. 

"It’s one thing when these NBA players do it [protest during the anthem]. OK, fine, we’ll just stop watching," Crenshaw told Fox and Friends. "But now, the Olympic team – and it’s multiple cases of this. They should be removed. That should be the bare minimum requirement, is that you believe in the country you’re representing."


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The Olympian hit back on Twitter, alleging critics were detracting from and missing the point of her message. 

"I never said I hated this country! People try to put words in my mouth but they can’t," Berry tweeted in response to a fellow user’s support. "That’s why I speak out. I LOVE MY PEOPLE."


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Published on Jun 29, 2021